Hedgefund News Wrap: Week Ending 01/15/2016

FIAT CHRYSLER ACCUSED OF INFLATING SALES, SHARES DEFLATING 

(The Wall Street Journal) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the fastest-growing major auto maker, fell by nearly 10 percent in Milan on Thursday after two lawsuits were filed. Two dealerships filed lawsuits accusing the car giant of inflating U.S. sales, as if the automobile industry wasn’t already knee-deep in trouble.

Napleton Automotive Group, operating Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealerships in Illinois and Florida, accused Fiat Chrysler of financially rewarding dealers who falsified their vehicles sales reports in an effort to stick with its volume growth program. Here comes the kicker, Mr. Napleton stated that he was offered $20,000 to falsely report sales of 40 vehicles and rejected the offer, in which he believes the company moved onto other dealers until enough of them agreed.

Fiat Chrysler said it had not yet received a copy of the suit but “believes the claim is without merit.” It also said it “is confident in the integrity of its business processes and dealer arrangements and intends to defend this action vigorously.”

Once the truth is revealed, Fiat Chrysler will either be placed into the penalty box with Volkswagen, or their innocence may entice more customers to trust them, time will tell.

Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal 
More coverage: Fox Business and Investor’s Business Daily

WAL-MART TO CLOSE 296 STORES 

(CNBC) – It looks like Amazon and other retail sluggers are taking their toll on giants like Walmart, as they are set to close 154 stores in the U.S. and 115 spread over Latin America, mostly in Brazil.

With over 16,000 employees feeling the burn, Wally World said they plan to relocate some employees to nearby locations. Conveniently, more than 95 percent of the stores set to be shut down in the U.S. are within 10 miles of another location, so relocation for workers and accessibility its customers should not be a major issue.

But Wal-Mart is not down for the count, as 2016 is year of expansion: 50-60 supercenters, 85-95 Neighborhood Markets and 7-10 Sam’s Clubs in the U.S., along with 200-240 stores outside of the U.S., are set to open according to plan.

Read the entire article at CNBC
More coverage: Fox News and Chicago Tribune

DRIVERLESS CARS MAY GET $4 BILLION BOOST FROM THE GOVERNMENT

(Los Angeles Times) – The U.S. government is silently chanting “vroom vroom” as it proposed spending $4 Billion on self-driving cars.

The proposal aims to have federal regulators work with auto makers and others to craft policies and rules for vehicles that can operate without a driver at the wheel, but of course it requires congressional approval. The government hopes that the technologies can improve vehicle safety and reduce road fatalities, along with reducing population and more-efficient transportation.

The monster budget, which plans to fuel the project for 10 years, was announced at the North American International Auto Shows by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Foxx stressed that human error can be curbed with new technologies and he estimated that as many as 25,000 deaths could have been avoided last year if driverless technology had been widespread.

Read the entire article at Los Angeles Times
More coverage: The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal