GameStop adds 507 AT&T stores in diversification plan
GameStop Corp. acquired 507 AT&T wireless stores as part of a drive to diversify and reduce its dependence on sales of video games, the company announced on Aug. 2. .
The stores are located in 26 states, with the biggest share in Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma, Tony Bartel, GameStop’s chief operating officer, said in an interview. He declined to reveal the purchase price but said it amounted to the bulk of the $475 million the Grapevine-based company raised in a debt offering this year.
“Video games are cyclical,” he added. “We said, ‘Let’s take our real estate experience and extra capital that we have and see if we can diversify.’ “
GameStop, the largest independent retailer of video games, has been trying to add new businesses as more purchases of video games are made online. The company’s wireless retailing is on pace to produce $1 billion in annualized sales this year and profit of $85 million to $100 million, Bartel said.
The stores were acquired from three companies, Cellular World Corp., Midwest Cellular Inc. and Red Skye Wireless Inc. The deal expands the company’s AT&T wireless stores to 1,421, making GameStop the largest authorized AT&T Mobility retailer.
In the first quarter, mobile and consumer electronics sales contributed 9.8 percent of GameStop’s revenue. – Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg
AIR FORCE SAYS F-35 READY
FOR LIMITED COMBAT USE
The U.S. Air Force declared its version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 warplane ready if needed for limited combat operations, a milestone for the $379 billion program, the Pentagon’s costliest.
The service’s announcement Aug. 2 that the combat jet has an “initial operational capability” reflects progress after early years marked by development setbacks and rising costs. But the F-35 is still in development, with flawed software among its biggest challenges, and it won’t have full combat capability for at least three more years.
The Air Force announced the initial milestone at the start of a five-month period it had set aside to make the decision. Lockheed’s fortunes ride on the F-35, the biggest source of revenue for the world’s largest defense company. The plane accounted for 21 percent of Lockheed’s $12.9 billion net sales during the second quarter, according to a regulatory filing, and its impact should grow as the jet moves to full production.
“The F-35A will be the most dominant aircraft in our inventory, because it can go where our” older aircraft “cannot and provide the capabilities our commanders need on the modern battlefield,” Gen. Herb (Hawk) Carlisle, head of the Air Combat Command, said in a statement, referring to the Air Force version of the fighter.
The move comes about a year after the Marine Corps made a similar declaration for its version of the F-35. The Marine version is the most complex of the different models because it is designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings.
The Air Force’s F-35 won’t be declared to have full combat capability until it undergoes vigorous operational exercises; those won’t begin until August 2018 at the earliest and will last as long as a year. That would be a year later than planned, largely because of technical issues that the Air Force now considers sufficiently resolved or on a path to being resolved. The first operational squadron of the F-35A will be at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
The initial aircraft won’t have all the electronic combat, data fusion, weapons capacity or automated maintenance and diagnostics capabilities until the most advanced version of its complex software is fielded by 2018.
The F-35 initially will carry either two 2,000-pound GPS-guided bombs or two 500-pound laser guided weapons, plus two air-to-air missiles. – Bloomberg
ALCON’S CONTACT LENSES
AID VISION AS EYES AGE
Alcon, the Fort Worth-based eye care division of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis International AG, recently introduced Dailies Total1 Multifocal contact lenses for people with presbyopia.
Presbyopia is an eye condition that is part of natural aging and affects nearly 2 billion people worldwide. Generally beginning after age 40, it is the gradual decline of the eye’s ability to focus on nearby objects, causing them to appear blurry and out of focus. Many contact lens wearers give up using contacts after age 40 due to dryness and discomfort.
“Presbyopia can have a significant impact on people’s quality of life as they get older,” said Alcon CEO Mike Ball. “With Dailies Total1 Multifocal, Alcon has designed a unique contact lens that answers to the increased need for comfort and the expectation of a seamless visual experience of people with presbyopia.”
The Dailies Total1 water gradient technology reduces dryness, as the water content reaches nearly 100 percent at the outermost surface of the lens. The soft, watery lens is comfortable, while the optical design offers a smooth progression between distant, intermediate and near vision. The new multifocal lens is an alternative to bifocals or reading glasses.
Dailies Total1 Multifocal lenses became commercially available in the United States, Canada, Australia and Switzerland as of July 27. They are expected to be available in various European Union countries by Sept. 1.
MOUSER CO-SPONSORS CONTEST
FOR SPACE STATION PROJECT
Fort Worth-based Mouser Electronics Inc. has partnered with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Made in Space, along with Hackster and MacroFab, to sponsor the I.S.S. Design Challenge.
The contest is open to college and university students, engineers and makers to create a 3D-printable project designed to help astronauts on the International Space Station (I.S.S.). Designs may include small electronics to be used with the object. The contest is co-sponsored by Amphenol and Intel.
Celebrity engineer Grant Imahara and Col. Chris Hadfield, former commander of the Space Station, are among the guest judges for the competition.
The winner of the I.S.S. Challenge will receive a 3D printer, a consultation with Made in Space and the honor of seeing their design 3D-printed aboard the I.S.S.
The challenge is the newest series in the Empowering Innovation Together program. To accompany the contest, Mouser, Hadfield and Imahara will release a series of videos on the Empowering Innovation Together site at www.mouser.com/empowering-innovation.
Mouser is accepting entries now through Oct. 7 at http://www.mouser.com.
D-FW RESIDENTS SEE FUTURE
AS TECH HUB, SURVEY SAYS
Dallas-Fort Worth residents overwhelmingly think the state of the local economy is on par with or better than the overall U.S. economy, according to a recent survey by Charles Schwab.
In a survey of 1,000 residents ages 21 to 75, nearly all – 95 percent – say they expect the local economy to continue to grow at the same rate or faster than the U.S. economy. Nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent, say they think the local economy is in better shape than the national one, while 33 percent think it’s comparable. Survey respondents say the primary driver of economic growth is the recent increase in the number of company headquarters and corporate campuses in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the vast majority (83 percent) say that’s a positive trend.
The continued growth of the local economy, according to the survey, is likely led by the area’s growing tech scene.
More than half (55 percent) of the survey respondents say Dallas-Fort Worth boasts one of the best tech hubs in the country, while a strong majority (84 percent) believe the tech industry is going to become a significant driver of local economic growth. More than half (56 percent) believe Dallas-Fort Worth will be known as a tech hub by 2026.
Local residents also are happy with their quality of life (82 percent) and local cost of living (76 percent), the survey says. Respondents say the local economy (50 percent), job market (47 percent) and oil prices (46 percent) have contributed positively to their personal finances.
More information is available at www.aboutschwab.com.
SECURUS GAINS 2 PATENTS
IN INMATE SECURITY FIELD
Dallas-based Securus Technologies Inc., a provider of civil and criminal justice technology for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, was issued two new patents by the U.S. Patent Office in July.
That increases the company’s patent portfolio to 247, the largest in its industry, according to CEO Richard A. (Rick) Smith.
The two latest patents include technology that allows residents of controlled-environment facilities (such as inmates) to remotely attend an event such as a graduation, wedding or funeral via the broadcast of a live video feed, and voice technology that can detect potential imposters or identity scams in prisons.
Securus Technologies’ portfolio includes patents in most areas of corrections communications and operations, including audio calling, video calling, fraud detection, call platform architecture, call storage, call throughput, inmate purchasing and monitoring, billing, voice biometrics and commissary services.