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Bridgeport, Ala. Becomes Ground Zero for Major Yamaha Announcement
by Richard Simms
The small town of Bridgeport, Ala. became Ground Zero for some of the biggest writers in the outboard and boating business Tuesday.
Bridgeport has long been home of a semi-secret Yamaha Marine Division testing facility. Every year Yamaha big wigs come to Chattanooga and Bridgeport to show off the next season's latest and greatest Yamaha innovations to writers and editors.
This year the biggest news out of Bridgeport is what Yamaha calls Helm Master™.
You won't be using Helm Master on your run-of-the-mill fishing boat. It's designed for larger vessels at least 30 feet in length with either twin or triple-engines. But if you own a boat like that, you'll definitely want to learn about Helm Master, an amazing new boat control system.
Let me sum it up this way... you arrive at Chattanooga's Riverfront and there is only one "parking spot" left at the Marine Max dock, and it is just barely longer than your boat. Even for the most experienced Captain, parallel parking in the Tennessee River current just doesn't work very well.
However with Helm Master, you can literally move your boat sideways in the water, easing point-blank into your assigned spot.
At the touch of a button, the joystick-driven system integrates all boat control devices while eliminating the need for bow thrusters in most boats. It is based on steering from the boat's center axis, rather than on a stern axis... what Yamaha engineers call the "Ring of Motion." In tight quarters it allows movement of the boat in any direction with the simply touch of a joystick, not only fore and aft and port and starboard, but the joystick can be rotated for turning and positioning the boat.
That's just one of many innovations Yamaha says Helm Master brings to the plate.
Don't ask how much it costs. Yamaha hasn't decided yet. The company is still working with 15 or 20 boat manufacturers to determine who they'll give it to and who they won't.
The announcements Yamaha made this week won't be available on showroom floors until at least March 2013. Company officials say they'll be ready to release more detailed information at one of the country's largest boat shows in Miami, Fla. beginning Feb. 14, 2013.
But whatever folks hear about out of Miami, remember you heard it first out of Bridgeport, Ala.
More Business News
Last Update on April 17, 2014 17:08 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits last week rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000. Jobless claims continue to be near pre-recession levels despite the slight increase.
The Labor Department says that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 312,000. That is the lowest four-week average since October 2007, just two months before the Great Recession started. The average has fallen by 53,500 applications over the past 12 months.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The current level of claims suggests that employers are holding on their workers with the expectation of stronger economic growth ahead.
Employers added 192,000 jobs in March and 197,000 in February, the Labor Department reported. Hiring has picked up after a slowdown caused by severe winter weather.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.27 percent from 4.34 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.33 percent from 3.38 percent.
Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago.
Many analysts have been expecting an improving economy to lift the housing market, which has been recovering over the past two years. But housing has struggled to maintain momentum. Rising home prices and higher mortgage rates have held back some potential home buyers. Others have had trouble qualifying for mortgages.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Investment bank Goldman Sachs says its first-quarter earnings fell as fixed income trading slumped.
The bank earned $1.9 billion in the quarter, down 11 percent from the same period a year earlier when it made $2.2 billion.
The earnings were equivalent to $4.02 a share. Analysts polled by FactSet had predicted earnings of $3.49 a share.
Revenue totaled $9.3 billion, down 8 percent from a year earlier, when the bank generated revenue of $10.1 billion. The latest quarterly revenue beat analysts' expectations of $8.7 billion.
Goldman's stock rose $2.78, or 1.8 percent, to $160 in pre-market trading.
NEW YORK (AP) -- PepsiCo reports a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit as the company slashed costs and sold more snacks around the world.
The company, which makes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Mountain Dew and Tropicana, says global snack volume rose 2 percent while beverages were even from a year ago.
In its closely watched North American beverage unit, PepsiCo Inc. says volume was even. Growth in other drinks offset a 1 percent decline in sodas.
For the quarter, the company earned $1.22 billion, or 79 cents per share. Not including one-time items, it earned 83 cents per share, above the 75 cents per share Wall Street expected.
A year ago, it earned $1.08 billion, or 69 cents per share.
Revenue edged up to $12.62 billion, higher than the $12.39 billion analysts expected.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Toy maker Mattel says weak sales of Barbie and markdowns to clear out excess inventory left over from a sluggish holiday season led to an unexpected first-quarter loss.
Toy makers are facing a weak environment globally due to the uncertain economy and popularity of electronic gadgets.
The largest U.S. toy maker says its net loss for the three months ended March 31 totaled $11.2 million, or 3 cents per share. That compares with net income of $38.5 million, or 11 cents per share last year. Analysts expected earnings of 7 cents per share.
The company which makes Disney Princess dolls and Hot Wheels cars says revenue fell 5 percent to $946.2 million. Analysts expected $947.6 million. Barbie revenue dropped 14 percent.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Target is vastly expanding the goods that are available to order by subscription as it fends off its biggest non-traditional retail rival, Amazon.com.
The nation's second-largest discounter first dabbled with subscriptions last September, trying to win over haggard parents with 150 baby care products.
That program has been expanded more than tenfold this week to nearly 1,600 items across a much wider array of consumer goods. Everything from beauty products and pet supplies, to home office supplies like printer ink, are now available through subscription.
Target, based in Minneapolis, is playing catch up in the subscription arena, which has exploded as companies test consumer appetites for almost every niche, from socks to razors, to clothing and entertainment.
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