U.S. Cellular reports weak subscriber growth, shares plummet

By Wenjing Yang

Shares of United States Cellular Corp. plummeted nearly 9 percent on Friday after the company reported worse-than-expected subscriber metrics in the fourth quarter and announced that it will introduce unlimited-data plans.

U.S. Cellular shares closed at $40.90, down $3.94.

The Chicago-based wireless services provider reported its net loss widened to $6 million, or 7 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, more than triple its net loss of $2 million, or 2 cents per diluted share, a year earlier, but beat analysts’ estimate of a loss of 35 cents.

Revenue rose slightly to $991 million, up 0.4 percent from $987 million, while analysts polled by Bloomberg estimated $1.03 billion.

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Tokyo, eyeing 2020, reinforces Japanese character

By Yingcong (June) Fu

Tokyo is pointing toward its second Olympics, in 2020, after more than half a century. Different from the situation in 1964, when Japan’s economy was emerging after World War II, Tokyo is trying to bring a new global image this time after decades of economic stagnation in Japan.

Consistent with the slogan of “discover tomorrow”, the Tokyo government is polishing the city with well-designed details to depict an ideal urban life in the future–heated seats and women-only cars in the subway system, delicatedly-designated public smoking areas, and extremely clean streets with only a few trash cans.

The Japanese tradition of high self-discipline is also reinforced in the modernization of the city, attempting to distinguish Japan from other developed countries. You can hardly find a smoker outside a smoking area, nor can you spot anyone eating or drinking in the public. In recent years, more natives tend to wear surgical masks on the street, to protect themselves from pollution and allergy.

According to a report by the World Lung Foundation, Japan ranked fifth among the countries with the highest cigarette consumption per person in 2014. In 2009 Kanagawa became the first prefecture to pass an anti-smoking ordinance in public areas, and Tokyo tightened smoking regulations in 2015. (Yingcong (June) Fu/MEDILL)
A smoker lights up in a public smoking area. Smoking is declining. An annual survey conducted by Japan Tobacco Inc. found that only 19.3 percent of adults were smokers in Japan in 2016, the lowest in history. (Yingcong (June) Fu/MEDILL)
trash can
Even though few trash cans are available, you rarely see litter on the street. Japan has a complex trash sorting system. Trash cans have different categories. (Yingcong (June) Fu/MEDILL)
women-only cars
Women-only cars began to operate in Tokyo early in 2001, to protect women from sexual harassment in packed subways. Terminals and cars are marked with signs with a pink background to make women-only cars distinguishable. (Yingcong (June) Fu/MEDILL)
surgical masks
More Japanese, ever health-conscious, wear surgical masks on the street after the flu pandemic in 2009 and the earthquake and nuclear accident in 2011. (Yingcong (June) Fu/MEDILL)
The classic Japanese cuisine–healthy, delicate and well-organized–also speaks to the tradition of self-discipline. (Yingcong (June) Fu/MEDILL)
Photo at top: Tokyo mundanely bills itself as “a city of the future.” (Yingcong (June) Fu/MEDILL)

Consumer sentiment dips slightly but remains high

Consumer sentiment remained high in February but fell slightly from the 13-year peak reached in the previous month.

The Index of Consumer Sentiment was 96.3 in February, down 2.2 percent from 98.5 in January but up 5 percent from 91.7 a year earlier, according to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast the February index to be 96.

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New home sales recover at lower-than-expected pace

By Yifang (Evonne) Liu

New single-family home sales modestly increased 3.7 percent to an annual adjusted rate of 555,000 in January, well below the economists’ consensus of an annual rate of 571,000 compiled by Bloomberg.

The January rate was up from December’s rate of 535,000, which was a drop of 10.4 percent, the most in almost two years, according to the report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
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Von Steuben player finds motivation from tragedy

By Karl Bullock

After failing to muster the required layups in a practice drill, Von Steuben players head to the sideline to face the consequences: sideline sprints.

“Were you hustling?” Donovan Maxey asks freshman guard Chijioke Nwosu. With a look of frustration on his face, they begin to run back and forth. Before Nwosu can answer, Maxey cuts him off.

“No, you weren’t,” he said. “I was watching you,” he said.

For the past four years at Von Steuben Metropolitan, Maxey has seen his share of ups and downs while playing basketball. Two fractures to his right ankle cut short Maxey’s sophomore season. When the injury carried over into his junior year, the 6-foot-1 senior forward was forced to sit out the entire season.

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CHA development deal faces opposition from Rogers Park residents

By Holly Kane

Before security escorted Stephanie Hayes and about a dozen members of her group out of a meeting Tuesday, the longtime Rogers Park resident asked board members to think about approving a development deal that she fears would disrupt her community.

“We just want to be left alone, and be in peace,” Hayes said in front of the Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. “We want to have our little garden in the space in the back, where we can sit and get fresh air, see the butterflies and the bees the ants, plant a few flowers, and maybe even have a barbecue once in a while.”

Hayes has lived in the Caroline Hedger Apartments, a 436-unit senior building in Rogers Park, since 2013. The unanimously approved development deal allows for the construction of a 111-unit mixed-use development anchored by a 23,000-square-foot Target in the “vacant Hedger parking lot,” according to the agenda.

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Chicago photographer makes art out of simplicity

By Lauren Baker

Jason McCoy is a Chicago photographer who has been featured in Ebony Magazine and shoots both fashion and portrait photography. His visions are captured in a short documentary.

A self portrait by Jason McCoy (Lauren Baker/MEDILL)

Video: Northwestern’s superfan brings color and flair to the season

By Devin Emory

From make-up preparation to gym chants, Jake Schaefer is determined to do his part in advancing the Wildcats’ historic season. Here’s a look inside at Northwestern’s most notable super fan as he chronicles his game day strategy.

Senior Jake Schaefer dresses in a purple-themed Phantom of the Opera attire for all Northwestern home basketball games.

Zebra returns to profitability, stock jumps

By Yingcong (June) Fu

Shares of Zebra Technologies Corp. surged 4.8 percent on Thursday as the company reported a profit for the fourth quarter after four consecutive quarterly losses.

The Lincolnshire, Ill.-based printer and mobile computer provider swung to net income of $17 million, or 34 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a net loss of $28 million, or 53 cents per diluted share, in the year-earlier period, beating the consensus estimate of 27.5 cents by eight analysts polled by Bloomberg.

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U.S. Cellular faces price competition, other challenges

By Wenjing Yang

United States Cellular Corp. is expected to maintain modest growth by focusing on less competitive rural markets amid Wall Street’s downbeat forecast on subscriber growth, while facing price pressure and scale disadvantage in competing with national carriers in 2017.

Analysts anticipate the Chicago-based wireless service provider will post revenue of $4.02 billion in 2017, slightly higher than their 2016 estimate. Net income is estimated to be $72.9 million, or 92 cents per diluted share, compared with the estimated $39.3 million, or 34 cents per diluted share, in 2016.

Despite a better estimate for the coming year, analysts foresee competitive pressures bearing on U.S. Cellular, the fifth largest wireless service provider in the United States.

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