U.S.-based Major League Soccer playing in the shadow of global teams

Patrons at Chicago's Globe Pub watch the 2014 MLS Cup Final. Nick Kariuki/ Medill
Patrons at Chicago’s Globe Pub watch the 2014 MLS Cup Final. Nick Kariuki/ Medill

By Nick Kariuki

The large group at Chicago’s Globe Pub, many sporting jerseys from soccer teams all over the country, was focused on Sunday’s Major League Soccer Cup Final — and the craft beers they were sipping. Soccer scarves from around the world mounted the walls, along with signed, framed photos and jerseys.

Unfortunately, although both teams had made exciting playoff runs to reach the final, neither the Los Angeles Galaxy nor the New England Revolution were playing at their best in the big game. Viewers in the pub began to voice their frustration at the misplaced passes and what seemed like both teams inability to keep the ball on the ground.

“It’s like watching little kids play soccer,” one patron remarked.

Continue reading “U.S.-based Major League Soccer playing in the shadow of global teams”

Fast-growing Under Armour sets its sights on sportswear giant Nike

A selection of Under Armour shoes at a Sports Authority Store on North LaSalle Street, Chicago (Nick Kariuki/Medill)
A selection of Under Armour shoes at a Sports Authority store on North LaSalle Street, Chicago (Nick Kariuki/Medill)

By Nick Kariuki

In August Under Armour Inc. offered a shoe deal of between $265 million and $285 million to Kevin Durant, the NBA’s most valuable player.  The big-ticket bid was aimed at luring Durant away from his current sponsor — Under Armour arch-rival Nike, Inc.

For Under Armour, the proposal would have been its biggest endorsement deal ever.

But it didn’t happen. Instead, Nike exercised its contractual right to outbid any competitor and countered with a $350 million offer, which the Oklahoma City Thunder star accepted.

Continue reading “Fast-growing Under Armour sets its sights on sportswear giant Nike”

Labrabbit brings vintage eyewear into focus

 

By Nick Kariuki

Labrabbit Optics is a Wicker Park store that sells hard-to-find designer and antique eyeglass and sunglass frames along with hand-cut prescription lenses. Owner and optician Coyote DeGroot, 33, offers hands-on, one-on-one service for his customers. DeGroot’s scaled back business model and his selection of the best quality frames from countries that include Italy, Germany, France and Japan have helped his business to take in around a quarter of a million dollars in the past year. Along with his strong core of repeat customers, around two-thirds of Labrabbit’s customers on any given day are new.

Stocks end marginally lower as Fed weighs global concerns

The Federal Reserve's minutes helped the markets rally in afternoon trading. Nick Kariuki/Medill
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on LaSalle Street at Jackson Boulevard. Markets rallied briefly Wednesday on the Federal Reserve’s policy minutes but ended the day lower. Nick Kariuki/Medill

By Nick Kariuki

The stock market ended slightly lower Thursday after briefly rallying in the afternoon in response to minutes from the Federal Reserve’s October policy meeting. Continue reading “Stocks end marginally lower as Fed weighs global concerns”

Business-friendly Rauner’s agenda faces a tough House

Rauner's campaign promises included lowering the cost of doing business in Illinois and making job creation our top priority. Photo: Evan Garcia
Rauner’s campaign promises included lowering the cost of doing business in Illinois and making job creation our top priority. Photo: Evan Garcia

By Nick Kariuki

Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner unseated Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn by promising to bring business-friendly policies to Springfield, and his victory has given commercial interests high hopes.

But it’s not going to be that simple.

To bring what he has called his “transformational” plan for change into law, Rauner must get his proposed legislation past the Illinois House, where a Democratic supermajority still holds the reins. That power structure, led by Speaker of the House and Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party Rep. Michael J. Madigan, isn’t going to make things easy for the incoming governor.

“In many ways Rauner will have to emulate Nik Wallenda,” said Paul Green, professor of public administration at Roosevelt University. “He’s walking a tightrope to deal with both sides.”

Continue reading “Business-friendly Rauner’s agenda faces a tough House”

Electronic Arts’ stock plays well after strong earnings

By Nick Kariuki

Shares of Electronic Arts Inc. have risen 70 percent in 2014.

Electronic Arts Inc. shares surged Wednesday after the video game publisher, getting a boost from strong sales of its established stable of blockbuster titles on  the new generation of gaming systems, turned in fiscal second quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations.

For the quarter ending Sept. 30, EA swung back into the black with net income of $3 million, or 1 cent per diluted share, up from a year-earlier loss of $273 million, or 89 cents a share.

Continue reading “Electronic Arts’ stock plays well after strong earnings”

Wall Street gives Under Armour the cold shoulder

 

Photo courtesy of Under Armour.

By Nick Kariuki

Although Under Armour Inc.’s reported a solid third-quarter earnings increase, investors chose to look past those results and fret about whether the sports- apparel maker will be able to sustain its headlong sales growth into next year.

The Baltimore company’s net income rose 9.5 percent to $89.1 million, or 41 cents  per diluted share,  from $72.8 million, or 34 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. The per-share results topped analyst predictions by a penny.

Continue reading “Wall Street gives Under Armour the cold shoulder”

Positive readings on factories and jobs buoy economic spirits

By Nick Kariuki

US Department of Labor/Nick Kariuki/Medill Initial claims have remained below 300,000 for five consecutive weeks.
US Department of Labor/Nick Kariuki/MEDILL
Initial claims have remained below 300,000 for five consecutive weeks.

Better-than-expected readings on weekly unemployment claims and manufacturing temporarily allayed investor fears of an economic slowdown Thursday.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance, seasonally adjusted, dropped to their lowest level in 14 years, the Department of Labor reported. Continue reading “Positive readings on factories and jobs buoy economic spirits”

Chicago’s tourism set for boost from Chicago Marathon

Mayor Emmanuel speaks at the kick off press conference. Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski (right) and Bank of America Illinois President sit behind.
Mayor Emanuel speaks at the kick off press conference. Nick Kariuki/Medill

 

by Nick Kariuki

Sunday’s 37th Annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon will bring energy and excitement for the competitors and the crowds who come to watch them.  It also promises to bring something else:  a quarter of a billion dollars in money for local businesses and attractions.

Last year’s marathon contributed an estimated $253.49 million in business activity to the Chicago economy, according to a recent independent study conducted by the University of Illinios at Urbana-Champaign’s Regional Economics Applications Laboratory.

Continue reading “Chicago’s tourism set for boost from Chicago Marathon”