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Best Buy stock ‘tanks’ on poor holiday sales

Healthy earnings for UnitedHealth; tech thiefs look for “unlocked doors”; blinding snow closes northwest highways; nine on, one off pollution list; and more.

REUTERS/Mike Segar

OK, which one of you didn’t buy a new $3,000 4K TV for Christmas? In the Los Angeles Times, Tiffany Hsu reports: “Best Buy Co. watched its stock plunge more than 27% in morning trading Thursday after announcing poor holiday results that suffered from heavy competition and deep discounting. The consumer electronics retailer said revenue for the nine weeks ended Jan. 4 slumped 2.6% to $11.45 billion from the same period a year earlier. Same store sales slipped 0.9% in the U.S., though they managed at 0.1% boost internationally. In late morning trading in New York, Best Buy stock tanked nearly 28%, or $10.45, to $27.11 a share.”

Meanwhile, another “up” quarter for Minnesota’s little insurance operation … Says the AP: “UnitedHealth Group’s fourth-quarter earnings jumped 15 percent and topped expectations, as the nation’s largest health insurer booked a sizeable gain from a business that doesn’t sell insurance. … UnitedHealth said operating earnings for its Optum segment jumped 43 percent to $655 million in the quarter. Optum provides information technology and data services and pharmacy benefits management, and UnitedHealth executives frequently tout its growth prospects to analysts.” Odd isn’t it that it is invariably well positioned for every market eventuality.

The “how” would be good to know … MPR’s Martin Moylan writes: “When it comes to stealing personal data from a retailer’s customers, security experts say thieves are relentless in searching for the digital equivalent of unlocked doors or windows. … Justin Cappos, a computer science professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, suspects the delivery can be traced to the point-of-sale computer code, known as a software image. ‘Either the hacker got in and infected the main software image that was pushed down to all the point-of-sale systems or there was a common problem with the images that let a hacker compromise all of those the point-of-sale systems,’ he said.”

Have a nice drive … The AP is saying: “Blinding snow has closed at least two highways in northwestern Minnesota where firefighters rescued a stranded motorist. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says Highway 2 was closed from Crookston to East Grand Forks, N.D., as well as Highway 200 between the state line and Highway 75 near Halstad. Strong wind and heavy snow combined to create whiteout conditions. Authorities advised against traveling.”

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Kind of like an appendix, I guess … In an editorial, the Duluth News Tribune discusses the necessity of a lieutenant governor and hometown favorite Yvonne Prettner-Solon: “Prettner Solon forged a significant role for herself and the office she held over the past three years. She made sure she and the position mattered and was making a difference. … [legislative leaders] can debate whether Minnesota needs a lieutenant governor anymore. Perhaps Prettner Solon should be the last one. The position can go out on a high note. … Lieutenant governors are picked as political assets at the outsets of gubernatorial campaigns. And if ‘line of succession’ is a concern once a new governor is seated, surely statute or some other measure could stipulate the next highest-ranking member of the governor’s party as the next up, whether that’s the secretary of state, a legislative leader or someone else.” Just as long as they have demonstrable funeral-attending and ribbon-cutting skills.

Plus nine, minus one … . The AP says: “State agencies have proposed adding nine polluted locations to the list of Minnesota superfund sites while removing the Minneapolis impound lot. The impound lot just west of downtown was a dump before the 1960s. It was added to the list in 1986. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says the city has conducted cleanup work there since the late 1980s and it no longer poses a threat to health or the environment.”

Here’s one long past its due date for resolution … Chris Serres of the Strib says: “With a pivotal court ruling just a month away, state lawmakers signaled a new readiness Wednesday to make dramatic changes to Minnesota’s controversial sex offender treatment program. During a state Senate hearing, legislators appeared supportive of far-reaching reforms recommended last month by a state-appointed panel of judges and other experts. The proposed reforms include the creation of a centralized state court for the commitment of rapists, pedophiles and other offenders; and treating sex offenders in the prison system rather than confining them indefinitely to costly high-security treatment centers.”

And another item in need of clarification … The AP’s Patrick Condon says: “A report from Minnesota’s legislative auditor says state law has no consistent standard for whether the governor should be able to use a state airplane to travel to political events. The auditor’s office issued its report Thursday. It’s in response to a complaint from a Republican-aligned group that questioned whether Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton should be able to use the plane for trips that involve political events.”

A touch of Scottsdale in Savage … . Says Susan Feyder of the Strib: “Savage could become home to what’s believed to be the first gated, upscale apartment complex in Minnesota. The Springs at Egan Drive would put almost 300 apartments, a clubhouse, pool, car washing station and pet playground on a chunk of farmland sometimes called ‘the pumpkin patch’ by residents. The entire site would be surrounded by a black wrought-iron fence with a security gate to control who comes in. A representative of the developer, Continental Properties, told city planning commissioners at a recent meeting that the fence is to ‘give the sense of security, the sense of privacy.’ ” Not to mention the social cachet of being “special.”