Toyota Moving Backward As U.S. Automakers Race Ahead and Quest For Energy Efficiency Powers Circuit Maker’s Profit Growth

Ford’s (F) 43% jump year-over-year to 142,285 vehicles was enough to take a slim lead over General Motors as the No. 1 U.S. carmaker.  With a thinner lineup since exiting bankruptcy in July, GM’s four core remaining brands  Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC saw sales jump 32.2% to 138,849.

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Toyota U.S. unit sales slid 9% in February to 100,027. February was the first full month since it began recalling millions of cars and halted sales and output of popular models because of sudden acceleration and brake problems.

“Ford benefited more than we thought (from Toyota’s woes),” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of TrueCar.com. “That speaks to Ford’s ability to attract Japanese-import buyers. [Read the full article]

Inefficient power supplies result in unnecessary costs and carbon emissions due to century-old technologies. But power-conversion efficiency is evolving, thanks in large part to Power Integrations. (POWI)

The San Jose, Calif.-based firm is bringing integrated circuits (ICs) which make computers, cell phones and consumer electronics smaller, faster and smarter  to the power-supply market.

The company, often referred to as POWI because of its ticker symbol, designs power-conversion chips that go into power supplies. Those are the “bricks” that are at the end of power cords of consumer devices like cell phone chargers.

All electronic devices have to convert the alternating current, AC, from the wall socket into direct current, DC. POWI’s chips provide that function. [Read the full article]

But battered credit or not, Americans by and large are still treating themselves to dinners out with the family.

Analysts chalk its success up to smart management, effective cost-cutting and timely promotions. But the consumer helped as well. Cheesecake Factory is a slightly pricier option than some of the other chain eateries with a more upscale clientele.

“They cater more to a slightly higher-income demographic, and I think that demographic is feeling a little better now than they did a few months ago,” said Robert Baird & Co. restaurant analyst David Tarantino.

Same-store sales, important in the restaurant business, have suffered. They were down 0.9% in the fourth quarter vs. a year earlier. Meanwhile, burrito chain Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) and sandwich place Panera Bread (PNRA) both reported small same-store gains in the fourth quarter.

But Cheesecake Factory’s dip was much smaller than in previous quarters. [Read the full article]

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