Hasbro’s Singing the Toys “R” Us Blues; It’s Good to Be Amazon; Target Goes on Holiday Offense With New Shopping Strategies

Don’t toy with me…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hasbro’s getting burned and it’s blaming Toys “R” Us. The toy company gave some abysmal holiday forecasts which sent shares down about 8%. Toys “R” Us owes creditors some $5 billion.  Among them is Hasbro which was left with a $60 million hole now that all those toys from the company aren’t headed to the toy store’s shelves.  It’s worth noting, however, that Hasbro only sold about 9% of its total inventory through Toys “R” Us.  But it isn’t just Hasbro that’s feeling the heat. Shares of Mattel also took a 4% hit today since a Toys “R” Us bankruptcy affects the entire toy industry, in some instances worse than others.  Incidentally, Hasbro’s third quarter profit went up 3% to $267 million and $2.09 per share, while its quaterly revenue increased 7% to $1.79 billion over the same time last year. Expectations were for $1.78 billion in revenue with just $1.94 per share. Hasbro has “The Last Jedi” to thank for some of this quarter’s gains, along with perennial favorites Monoply and My Little Pony.

Carrot dangling…

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Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dignity be damned as 238 cities found themselves swooning and doing whatever they could to lure Amazon’s $5 billion HQ2 project to their part of the country. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio had major New York City landmarks lit up in “Amazon orange” while Newark, New Jersey shrewdly offered the e-commerce giant $7 billion in tax breaks. Because after all, who more so than Amazon should be entitled to receive a $7 billion tax break? But hey, who can blame any of these cities or their savvy leaders for trying to woo Amazon to their neck of the woods. Just ask Seattle, a city that experienced a $38 billion boost to its economy because each dollar that Amazon invested into the city between 2010 to 2016 resulted in an additional $1.40 for the city. Not sure who figured out that formula but its easy to see why everyone wants in on that action. And while Newark’s offer must be awfully enticing, word on the street is that the current front runners are Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit.

Target acquired…

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Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Target’s got some new tricks up its sleeve this holiday season and is going with the “less is more approach.” What there will be less of are promotions. At least the constant bombardment of them. Apparently that tactic didn’t work so well for the retailer last year and only resulted in a 1.3% decline for the company.  But there’s no need to freak out that Target wont be offering any special deals. It’s just going for a more streamlined approach. Instead of constant deals and promotions, it plans to offer special weekend deals while remaining focused on pricing its merchandise correctly and competitively from the start. The company’s 1,800 stores will also offer a much bigger variety of gifts priced under $15. Expect to see around 1,700 offerings in that category. Perennial favorite, “free shipping  with no minimum” will once again resurface from November 1 – December 23 because, hey,  who doesn’t like free shipping. But perhaps Target’s most exciting new feature is the one dubbed “Gift Now.” Shoppers buy gifts and their (un)lucky recipients open them virtually via email. If  the recipient likes the gift, they enter their shipping address in order to receive the item. If not, they get to pick out something else for the same value. If that’s not novel, I don’t know what is.

McDonald’s It Ain’t as Burger King Posts Whopper Earnings; Chipotle Crosses GMO Off Its Menus; WalletHub Gives You the Lowdown on Where to Start a Biz

Royal earnings…

Image courtesy of joephotostudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of joephotostudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like the Burger King-Tim Hortons merger paid off as the newly formed company, Restaurant Brand International Inc., the world’s third largest fast-food company, posted some very impressive earnings. Those earnings had a little help from some of those tasty chicken fries and the ever-popular Spicy BLT Whopper Sandwich. Pulling down $932 million in revenue and taking in 18 cents a share, the company beat analysts’ estimates by 3 cents. In fact, the home of the Whopper had its best quarter for growth in almost ten years, unlike fast-food chain rival, McDonald’s who can’t seem to do anything right these days to get its earnings on the uptown train. Burger King has 14,300 restaurants with about half just in North America. Sales at Burger King picked up 9.6% while Tim Hortons saw an 8.1% rise. The company is even giving out a 10 cent per share dividend. And who doesn’t like a dividend?  These earnings might not be sitting too well with the Department of the Treasury who is downright aghast at companies merging for tax inversion purposes. In case you don’t recall, that’s when U.S. companies merge with foreign companies in an effort to pay a reduced tax rate in the U.S. The Department of the Treasury has since been doing its super, very best to make those tax inversion mergers that much more difficult to complete.

I got 99 problem but GMO’s ain’t one…

Image courtesy of rajcreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of rajcreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you get a yen for some GMO – as in, genetically modified  – nourishment, you needn’t bother getting your fix on at Chipotle. They’ve dropped that ingredient from its cuisine. At least in the United States. It seems like only yesterday that Chipotle was serving up genetically modified soybean oil and corn. Actually it was yesterday and those ingredients were actually found in a number of items at the eatery including its tortilla chips and taco shells. Perhaps you recall two years ago when Chipotle brought the issue of GMO’s to our attention and graciously began listing the offending items on its menu that contained such ingredients. Chipotle became the first restaurant to do such a thing and, in its own special way, passively-aggressively began menu-shaming other fast-food establishments who didn’t own up to their genetically-modified flawed menus. However the scientific community has yet to jump on the anti-GMO bandwagon, or even find anything alarming or problematic with using GMO’s. Even though Chipotle recently missed earnings estimates, with some of that owing to a pork shortage for its beloved carnitas, the stock seems to be holding steady at around $640 per share.

Location location location…

Image courtesy of jennythip/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jennythip/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you like the idea of being your own boss, the question of where to set up shop might just be the most important decision you make in starting your own business. Good thing the fine folks over at WalletHub already did the research for you so you can focus on the fun stuff, like zoning permits and plumbing problems. Using a bunch of useful criteria, from space affordability to how educated a locale’s labor force is, WalletHub compiled a list of “2015’s Best Cities to Start a Business.” Of the 150 cities listed, some of the more notable gems from the study found that the South is where it’s at with Shreveport, Louisiana taking the top spot. In fact Southern cities dominate most of the top ten spots. Figures as they know a thing or two about hospitality. Thinking of starting your own business in California? Well, don’t. Several cities in the Golden State fall at the wrong end of the list. As for the 150th best city to start your business? That distinguished honor belongs to Newark, New Jersey.

IP Whoa! A Bit of a Situation and Tesla Fizzles In the Garden State

What happens in China doesn’t necessarily stay in China…

Image courtesy 1shots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy 1shots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You might MIGHT not have heard of Alibaba only because it’s not based in the United States. But you should get to know them. I mean really get to know them. The Chinese based e-commerce site carries more goods than eBay and Amazon combined. What’s more is that it’s expected to be the biggest IPO since Facebook’s auspicious debut setting all sorts of fun and expensive records. But the decision to take the IPO to the US has made Hong Kong a smidgen unhappy since Alibaba controls about 80% of all e-commerce in China. US based Yahoo also owns about a 24% stake in the company. And six of the most powerful banks in the US have all got their tongues wagging hoping to get a nice slice of the underwriting pie.

Just a bit of a discrepancy?

Image courtesy of ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the soap opera we call bitcoin, Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto continues to deny that he is the man behind über hot cyber currency, bitcoin, despite being fingered as the creator by Newsweek magazine. He even issued a statement via his attorney. In it he laments that he had to discontinue his internet service “due to severe financial distress” and hasn’t had steady work in a decade. Something tells me he could use a couple of those bitcoins right about now. The person believed to be the creator is said to own about $400 million worth of bitcoins. Bitcoin creator, whoever you may be, wherever you may be, (assuming you are not Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, that is) it would be really cool, if you could throw a bit of coin Mr. Nakamoto’s way for all the trouble he’s going through just because he shares a name with you.

New Jersey is soooooo not with the current…

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you were thinking about going into one of those really cool Tesla stores to discuss purchasing one of its automobiles, just know that in New Jersey, my electric car-loving friend, they’re just talk. At least they’re going to be. No more Tesla showrooms. The correct term shall be galleries. Auto dealers in New Jersey (and Texas and Arizona) do not want you buying products directly from Tesla. They want you to go through a middleman/woman/person to purchase your vehicle because they’re deeply concerned and want to protect you. Oh, the oxymoron! Perhaps it’s because Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk just didn’t shell out enough cash for his esteemed politicians that he had his business model uprooted in the Garden State. After all, auto dealers forked over about $140 million for local, state and federal elections because they care. Mr. Musk ponied up a little less than $500,000. Who knew that working tirelessly to create a state of the art, environmentally conscious automobile that wins Consumer Reports Best Overall Car means you just don’t care?