Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Apple’s earnings, China still slowing, Big Pharma’s shakeup, Einstein’s brain

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What to watch for today

Apple is still going strong… As always, iPad and iPhone shipments will be closely scrutinized when the company announces earnings, but pressure is mounting on Apple and its CEO Tim Cook to release some new products. 

… but Facebook may be slowing down. Its recent blistering pace of revenue growth might drop in today’s earnings. However, it’s been a big quarter for the social-media company, in which it spent $21 billion on messaging service WhatsApp and virtual-reality company Oculus VR.

A close shave for Procter & Gamble. The growing ubiquity of beards has been hurting razor blade sales at P&G’s Gillette division (which is reportedly due soon to unveil its latest bizarre creation), but there could be a bit of a boost from emerging markets.

Britain says belt-tightening works. The UK releases official public-sector borrowing figures, which could show a slight excess. But signs that the economy is on the mend might prompt the Conservative government to preen a bit over its controversial fiscal austerity program.

New home sales in the US.  They could add to signs that America’s beaten-down housing market has sprung back to life. Prices were up sharply in February, and the month before, new home sales hit a five-and-a-half year high.

Wal-Mart links executive pay to compliance. The supermarket may as early as today report on the success its executives had on enhancing its anti-corruption program. It will also report on how the executives’ efforts affected their pay.

While you were sleeping

China remained slow. The HSBC/Markit flash purchasing managers’ index rose to 48.3 in April, from 48 in March. That still means orders shrank overall, but the government has already ruled out a sweeping stimulus package. This morning in China, the yuan reached a 16-month low.

Google’s hand appeared in the Apple-Samsung case. Court testimony showed that the search firm had indemnified Samsung against some of Apple’s patent claims. Many of Apple’s challenges against Samsung relate to software, and a win for Apple could hurt Google’s Android operating system for smartphones.

Pirates struck off Malaysia. Three crew were kidnapped from a Japanese oil tanker in the Malacca Straight, one of the busiest waterways in the world, after six pirates pumped out half of the 5 million liters of diesel on board and escaped. There are between 12 and 20 such attacks per year on the waterway.

Deutsche Bank planned South American cutbacks. The German lender is trimming its equities team in the region and may shut its equities business in Chile. There’ll be job cuts in several locations across the region but not in Mexico, Bloomberg reported.

Aereo had its day in court. The US Supreme court heard arguments for and against the cloud-based TV recording service, which broadcasters want shut down.  The Wall Street Journal described a decision (paywall) as “too close to call”.

Things came out yummy for Yum. The fast-food conglomerate (Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell) reported an 18% jump in profit thanks to a sales bounce in China.

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons explains the logic behind the drug industry’s latest massive shakeup. “Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Eli Lilly just announced a complicated four-part deal worth about $28.5 billion. When the dust settles, the three companies will look very different from before and, crucially, from each other. Big Pharma is under assault from generic drug makers, legal challenges to patents on blockbuster drugs, and the rise of low-cost drug makers based in emerging markets. To survive, the biggest players are building dominant positions in narrower business lines or pursuing drugs that target rare diseases. Diversification is out, and specialization is in.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Gold is for poor people. Among Americans at least, if you’re rich, you’ll be buying property.

America’s middle class is no longer the most affluent. After-tax incomes are higher in Canada and the poor are better-off in parts of Europe.

Google should buy Dropbox. It’s all about creating the ”internet of you“.

Vladimir Putin is modeling himself on Russian emperors of old. Except that he has their voracious expansionism, but not their love of European culture.

There ought to be a World Environment Organization. We’ve got the WHO, FAO, WMO, UNESCO… so why not a WEO?

Apple is like a movie studio. It releases blockbuster products every few years and then tries to live off their sequels.

Surprising discoveries

Evernote is the next company to go wearable. Maybe to record those great ideas that arrive during a jog.

Einstein’s brain wasn’t that special. Studies on various pieces of his brain, purporting to show it was different from those of ordinary people, are all flawed.

The government isn’t abusing your data; it’s losing it. “Miscellaneous errors” cause more data breaches in the public sector than insider abuses, criminal activity or theft.

Prisons in Texas are deadly hot. The state has strict rules for how heat should be handled on pig farms; for the incarcerated, not so much.

London’s forgotten fraudster. In the early 1700’s, a blond, blue-eyed “fake Asian” this erstwhile fellow convinced the British he had been kidnapped from Taiwan by  a Jesuit priest.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, prison temperature readings, and fraud stories to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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