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NRF concerned over plans to expand Internet domain names

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The National Retail Federation announced that it has asked the Commerce Department to delay implementation of a controversial plan to vastly expand Internet domain names, saying retailers and other businesses need more information before moving forward.

“The single comment we are hearing most often from retailers is that they wish they had more time,” NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “Whether they’re for it or against it, everybody agrees that there has been too much uncertainty around this process. Right now, uncertainty reigns.”

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit that administers Internet names for the Commerce Department, plans to launch a program in January that would go beyond traditional three-character “top level” domain names such as “.com” and “.org” to include word-length domains such as “.retail” or “.shop” and also allow business names such as “.NationalRetailFederation” to be used.

The plan has been under consideration since 2009, but “its scope and consequences have largely flown under the radar of most commercial businesses,” Duncan warned in a letter to Lawrence Strickling, head of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “To adequately plan, businesses need some level of clarity,” Duncan said. “To date, that guidance is lacking.”

Duncan said retailers have a wide range of brand identity issues and legal concerns to address before deciding whether to seek the new domain names. But ICANN has been unclear on information as basic as how many names will be available, citing numbers ranging from 300 to 1,500, he said. In addition, the organization has told some businesses the new domains assigned in 2012 will be all that will be available for the foreseeable future, while telling others new rounds of assignments will be made every few years. Such details are important so businesses will know whether they need to move quickly or will be able to wait, Duncan said. 

While some retailers believe the plan will offer new marketing opportunities, others are concerned that they could be forced to spend millions of dollars to protect themselves against “cyber-squatting,” by registering multiple variations of their names to keep competitors, critics or unauthorized users from doing so, the NRF said. Application fees for each of the new domains have been set by ICANN at $185,000, but the NRF said it expects most companies to spend $250,000 per name when legal fees and consultants are included, plus another $50,000 to $100,000 a year to manage the domains thereafter. In some cases, assignment of a domain sought by more than one party would be decided by auction, further driving up costs.

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Stanley Black & Decker donates tools to Joplin

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Stanley Black & Decker has made a $350,000 tool donation to the Joplin, Mo., rebuilding efforts. The tools, which are being used on the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” Joplin project, include Stanley, Bostitch, DeWalt, Porter-Cable and more. Following this project, the Home Builders Association of Southwest Missouri will gather, inventory and distribute the tools to the building trades classes at Franklin Technology Center and other area technical schools that lost their tools in the May 22 storm.

"The tools that we’re donating today will be used to replace and replenish those lost in the storm, as well as continue the rebuilding efforts to restore this community to its former greatness," said Tim Perra, Stanley Black & Decker’s communications director. "With these tools we are re-stocking the Franklin Technology Center and other local schools with the tools that these students need to not only learn the skills needed to contribute to rebuilding their community for the future, but also to help with the immediate needs of rebuilding today."

In addition, Stanley Black & Decker has established a tool lending library, based on the ToolBank USA model, in Joplin. The library, which is located at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and 26th Street, enables members of the community to borrow tools to repair their homes and businesses.

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3M posts Q3 income decline

BY HBSDealer Staff

St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M has reported third-quarter net income of $1.09 billion, down 1.8% from $1.11 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Sales in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 totaled $7.53 billion, up 9.6% from $6.87 billion in the year-ago period. 

Net income for the first nine months totaled $3.33 billion, up 5.4% from $3.16 billion in the prior-year period. Net sales were $22.52 billion, up 12.9% from $19.95 billion in the first nine months of 2010.

Third-quarter worldwide sales grew 9.6% — 3.7% came from acquisitions, 3.1% from foreign exchange impacts, 1.9% from organic volume growth and 0.9% from higher year-on-year selling prices.

Five of 3M’s six business segments expanded sales in the quarter, with Industrial and Transportation up 15.1%; Safety, Security and Protection Services up 14.1%; Health Care up 10.9%; Consumer and Office up 4.6%; and Electro and Communications up 1%. Local-currency sales in Display and Graphics declined 14.1%.

3M posted year-on-year sales increases in all geographic regions. Sales in local currencies grew 11.2% in Latin America/Canada, 9.2% in the United States, 5.9% in Europe and 2.1% in Asia Pacific. Excluding optical, Asia Pacific sales increased 11.3% in local currencies.

"The business environment remains challenging, as the economic softening that we experienced late in the second quarter continued into the third," said George Buckley, 3M chairman, president and CEO. "While growth rates were good across much of our portfolio, LCD TV remained weak and momentum slowed in other parts of electronics following several quarters of very good growth. In addition, ongoing policy uncertainty and austerity are affecting growth in Western Europe, which reduced sales in the quarter. As is typical, we are seeing the impact of these changes earlier than most as our customers decrease production in order to lower their inventories. Conversely, we should benefit more quickly when those markets recover." 

The company expects earnings to be in the range of $5.85 to $5.95 per share versus a prior expected range of $6.10 to $6.25. 

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