Eagle Eye Opener: Ford’s Profit Fails to Impress S&P; Platinum Production Cuts May Spur Labor Unrest; Japanese Food Company Eyes Value of Graying Workers

Eagle Eye Opener

Legal U-Turn — Ford’s Profitable 2012 Not Enough for S&P (CNBC)

Ford’s (F) turnaround in 2012 has its investors all a tither. Fresh off of a 52-week high, the company recently doubled its quarterly dividend to 10 cents a share. Company CEO Alan Mulally credited much of the turnaround to a re-focus on core brands: Ford and Lincoln. Still, curmudgeonly Standard & Poor’s needs to see a “broader return in profits” before it’ll issue an investment-grade credit rating to the rebuilding American icon.  Which, again according to Mulally, is the plan for 2013 — increase profitability in both Asia and Europe, to match that attained by U.S. interests. Sounds like Ford investors will drive to profits again in 2013.

Run on Platinum in 2013? Amplats Could be Key (Reuters)

The world’s largest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum (AGPPY), agreed to shutter two of its South African Amplats mines and cut 14,000 jobs in an attempt to revive flagging profits for the company and investors. Anglo — owner of 80 percent of Amplats — hopes to reduce platinum production by around one fifth or 400,000 ounces per year’. Unfortunately, even the threat of these closures caused a swift reaction from Amplats’ labor leader who threatened strikes. Last year Amplats strikes resulted in 50 deaths. News also sent platinum prices up 1.6 percent — surpassing gold for the first time in 10 months. Investors should keep an eye on their platinum near term.

Japanese Food Company Taps Generation Past (The Mainichi)

Forget Gen X slackers, Gen Y hipsters and even those Baby Boomer pups, one Japanese company is getting the most out of a group of workers typically considered past their prime. And investors better take notice as this could preview the workforce powering the 21st century. A case-in-point: Horinagashokusan is a Japanese food processing company in Miyama, The company is Fukuoka Prefecture, which employs 120 people. More than half of them are 60 years old or older. Company President Shinsaku Horinaga claims, “If our employees quit at 60, it would weaken us… Our company is just ahead of others in the graying of its workers. Before long, everywhere will be like us.” Is this the answer to retirement fund shrinkage…

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