Staple’D: FTC Wants to Quash Merger; Keurig Coffee Wants Privacy; Chipotle Earnings Not Coming Up Fresh

Deja vu…

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Image courtesy of TeddyBear[Picnic]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nothing like a pesky lawsuit to put a crimp in your $6.3 billion proposed takeover plans. Which is exactly what happened to Staples Inc. when the FTC voted unanimously, in a 4-0 vote, to try and put the kibosh on the office supply retailer’s’ attempted takeover of Office Depot by filing a suit to block the deal. The deal, which was expected to generate $39 billion in revenue, has the FTC concerned that the merger would create just one mammoth national office supply retailer that would yield too much power to raise prices, whether it be private consumers or commercial entities, many of which have big vendor contracts. This is not the first time that Staples has tried to pick up Office Depot. Back in 1997, the company attempted to do the same thing but was blocked from doing so even back then. Because the office supply marketplace has changed so much, given the availability of office supplies via e-commerce, Staples was certain this time there would be no issue. Besides, in 2012 the FTC approved a merger between Office Depot and Office Max merged on the basis that there was enough competition from Amazon, Wal-Mart and other outfits that allowed for a healthy amount of competition. Instead, of a merger today, however,  shares of Staples Inc. fell 14%, the most in 18 months, while shares of Office Depot fell 18% on news of the FTC lawsuit.

Perky…

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Big news in the single-serve coffee pod marketplace – yeah that’s a real thing: Keuring Green Mountain Inc. is going private to the tune of $13.9 billion and getting $92 per share. For real. In fact, that price is a 78% premium over Friday’s closing price. For real again. So what would make a company like that want to go private? Well it was an offer the coffee maker couldn’t refuse. That’s part of it anyway. The company posted some disappointing numbers and is down 60% just this year. Besides the ever-increasing competition in the single-serve pod market, Keuring also struck out with its KOLD product. Enter German company JAB who wants to be the numero uno North American coffee purveyor. And why not? It’s a $6.1 billion industry there alone and makes $15 billion globally. Did I mention that North America drinks up a big 40% of that global market share? JAB already picked up Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Caribou Coffee as it attempts to compete with Nestle. So far, JAB has the upper hand. By a lot. Indeed, news of the deal sent Keurig stock up 74%, which is especially good for Coca Cola since it owns 25.87 million shares, a 17.4% stake that adds up to about $2.4 billion. That’s even more good news for Coke since that’s how much it can expect to get from JAB for its shares. Of course, with any major deal, it is subject to shareholder approval. But assuming the deal’s approved, it will likely close by April.

No más

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Even millenials can’t help Chipotle with this one. The fresh-food restaurant chain saw its shares hit its lowest point in eighteen months, all the way down to $515 per share. Never mind that the stock is currently trading at around $543 a share. But I digress. Much of that slide can be blamed on the e. coli outbreak that had the chain closing a number of its locations since most of the 52 people who picked up the virus said they had eaten at Chipotle. The company is expecting a drop in same store sales between 8% – 11% for its fourth quarter. Chipotle also now expects earnings per share from $2.45 – $2.88. That’s especially brutal when you consider that analysts were expecting about $4.06 to be added, not to mention the fact that at this time last year the company pulled in $3.85 per share. The stock has been on a downward slide since news of the e. coli outbreak was first reported back in October. The stock has fallen 22% since then and is down 18% for the year.

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No-GoPro on Earnings; Could a Pfizer/Allergan Merger Become the Next Big Thing?; Wal-Mart Offers NO Free Shipping (limitations apply)

Worst. Day. Ever….

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

GoPro released its earnings yesterday only to tell us that it did not nail them. This came as a surprise to…no one.  Wall Street echoed its disappointment by sending shares down. Very down. So down, in fact, that the stock is hovering too close to its IPO price of $24 from back in 2014. GoPro miraculously managed to score $400 million in revenue, adding 25 cents per share. Too bad predictions called for almost $434 million and 29 cents per share. Meanwhile, the stock is down 67% for the year and the company is looking to buy back company shares, hoping to increase their value. While GoPro saw second quarter sales kick up by 72%, third quarter sales only increased by 43%. And the picture only gets grimmer as the company actually thinks sales will shrink during the ever-fiscally critical holiday season.  Part of GoPro’s problem is that it can’t seem to figure out how to transform itself from a product for a niche market to a product that spews mass appeal. Then we turn to GoPro’s Hero4Session. Besides the fact that the company initially charged too much for the product, GoPro also insists that the marketing budget for the already too-high priced product wasn’t large enough. Analysts aren’t too optimistic that they are gong to see much, if any, growth in GoPro’s camera unit in 2017. However, they are forecasting $500 million worth of revenue for GoPro’s other products. Go figure.

Erin Go Bragh…

Image courtesy of Pansa/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pansa/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today’s latest tax inversion plans are brought to us by Pfizer and Allergan Plc who are in “friendly talks” to create the world’s largest drug maker.  While no actual agreement has been reached, the deal would have Pfizer heading towards Ireland where corporate tax laws are far more favorable there than they are here. Can’t you just smell the politics that are about to invade this deal? Tax inversions happen when huge companies set up shop overseas in countries where they don’t get as brutally taxed as they do here. For instance, while Pfizer has the pleasure of shelling out a 25% tax rate to Uncle Sam, Ireland-based Allergan only has to deal with a 15% tax rate. The prohibitive tax rate can put many U.S. companies at an unfair advantage, they argue. Democrats think these companies should just suck it up and stay put. They also think drug companies should simply slash their high prices. However, these drug companies say they can’t do that with such high tax rates imposed. Republicans want those tax laws changed to make them more favorable for these big companies so that they’ll stay put because they want to. Not because they are being forced to. If any deal goes through, it will likely be the biggest deal. Ever. Estimates for Pfizer to buy Allergan range from about $113 billion to $157 billion. But isn’t it worth every cent if it means adding everybody’s favorite aesthetic filler into your drug fold?

No such thing as ‘free shipping?’

Image courtesy of SundayMorning/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of SundayMorning/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you can’t beat ’em…well do something they can’t do.  And that’s exactly why Wal-Mart is scrapping free shipping this holiday season on items that are less than $50. The idea is to instead offer free shipping – for in-store pick up. After all, there are approximately 4,600 Wal-Mart stores from which to choose. Besides, Wal-Mart’s hoping that while you’re picking up an ordered item, you’ll impulsively pick up some other items.  And companies love impulse shoppers.  To entice you to use this method, Wal-Mart is even allowing you to check-in at the store with your smart phone for expedited service. Wal-Mart’s hoping that this new shipping policy will help its profit margins, which have taken a bit of a hit, in part, because of shipping costs. And with 210 million consumers expected to use Wal-Mart’s mobile app, the giant retailer is banking that in-store pick-up will reverse those hits.