Color of Money: Apple to build $2B command center in Mesa

Color of Money: Apple to build $2B command center in Mesa

No surprise: New facility will occupy space it bought for now-bankrupt synthetic sapphire firm GT Technologies. Also: $6.5 Apple bonds on sale today.

Apple logo and money.
The color of money is whatever Apple says it is. Composite image by the author, derived from public domain graphics.

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2015 – People may think the color of money is green. But in reality, the color of money is whatever shade Apple decides to paint on its famous logo. Apple (AAPL) announced Monday that it will build out a $2 billion global command center in Mesa, Arizona.

Why Mesa? Simple. Apple intends to repurpose the huge manufacturing facility it bought for now-bankrupt synthetic sapphire firm, GT Technologies.

After inking that earlier deal to buy the building and lease it out to GT Tech—presumably enabling the smaller company to equip the facility for manufacturing to supply sapphire glass for the Apple Watch line and Apple’s new iPhone 6 twins—GT apparently couldn’t scale up to handle the manufacturing process, couldn’t manage its bottom line, or both of the above.

At any rate, the deal collapsed in bitterness. GT Tech denounced Apple for alleged dishonesty for starters. Apple’s armada of attorneys shrugged it all off as the tech giant went back to its old vendor, Corning Glass Works (GLW) re-upping orders for iPhone Gorilla Glass. The loss of potential revenue promptly put GT Tech (former symbol GTAT) effectively out of business and drowning in debt.

Since Apple owned the new Mesa facility anyway, it was a no-brainer for the tech and retail behemoth to repurpose the space, fulfilling in a different way its pledge to bring even more Apple jobs back to America.

In a prepared PR statement, Apple claimed “This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we’ve ever made, and when completed it will add over 600 engineering and construction jobs to the more than one million jobs Apple has already created in the U.S.”

Pinching in on Apple’s numbers, a number of sites, including CNBC and the Wall Street Journal, estimate that Apple’s new Arizona digs are expected to employ 150 new full-time workers at the facility itself for starters.

The buildout will also require the hiring of 300-500 individuals for construction and trade jobs, this according to a news release put out by new Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

In keeping with its politically correct and ever-green image, Apple also vowed to power the new building and equipment with renewable energy, to the point where it will build its own solar power facility to supply the necessary juice.

But, wait! as they like to say on TV commercials—There’s more!

Apple also announced that they’re selling a whopping $6.5 billion in new bonds today, no doubt figuring that the pricing will be right as the company rides the wave of it’s blockbuster first-quarter earnings, reported last week. Street talk first put a $5 billion price tag on the offering initially, but the company saw plenty of demand out there, so it upped the total amount of the deal. According to sources, order takers claimed the deal was three-times oversubscribed before it even hit the street.

With all the Apple excitement—again—it was hard to focus on Monday’s markets. After a nice opening surge, stocks began to tank—again—as we’ve learned to generally expect each Monday. But surprise! Stocks did an about-face around mid-afternoon, blasting upward just over 196 Dow points to the good.

The mopey S&P 500 and NASDAQ averages snapped back smartly as well, moving from red-ink territory to close up 25.86 and 41.45 points respectively. At this point, it’s not apparent what turned markets around. But maybe oil’s continuing upsurge from late last week—WTI is now nearly $50 per barrel—had a little something to do with this. We’ll have to wait and see.

Today’s trading tips

Market’s closed right now, so we can’t come up with any ideas right now. Our tiny gambles on oil last week, via the USL ETF and little nibbles of Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) and the newly consolidated Kinder Morgan (KMI) are pretty happy today. But we still don’t see a trend. We just got into these to start building a position, and we don’t think oil is about to get stable just yet.

We’re keeping most of our powder dry, however, parking a fair bit of cash into short-duration preferred stocks. It’s still weird out there.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17