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.

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French Company Goes Organic for U.S. Acquisition; U.S. Airlines Gear Up for Cuba; U.S. Banks Bond Over Brexit

Let them eat organic cake!

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dannon Yogurt’s parent company, Danone (said with a French accent) is looking to pick up  a major U.S company that will effectively double its size. That’s assuming all goes according to plan. Danone wants to offer organic food provider, WhiteWave, purveyor of favorites like Silk Almond and Soy Milk, Horizon Milk and Earthbound Farms, $10.4 billion in cash for the fiscal pleasure of its company. That’s a 24% premium over WhiteWave’s thirty day average closing price and comes out to about to $56.25 per share. But for Danone, whose looking to make itself a bigger presence in the United States, it’s well worth it, since WhiteWave’s offerings tend to attract wealthier consumers. WhiteWave generates annual sales of about $4 billion and with this acquisition, Danone expects to see a $300 million boost in operating profit. Danone has also been struggling in other parts of the world and this acquisition would ease the burden of some of those lesser-performing markets. FYI, when companies offer to buy other companies, their offers tend be at least at a 30% premium. Because this offer was not, it theoretically means that the bidding door is still open to other offers from companies like Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Kellogg Co, to name but a few. In a regulatory filing, though, WhiteWave did graciously say that it wouldn’t solicit other offers. However, there are exceptions. Should WhiteWave go with another offer, Danone still wins because it will get a $310 million break-up fee.

Bienvenido…

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Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Believe it or not, Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only topic of conversation today coming out of Washington DC. President Obama announced a proposal to allow eight U.S. airlines to provide nonstop service between Cuba and ten U.S. cities, beginning this fall. This will mark the first time in 50 years that travel of this kind will be available. And all this just one year after diplomatic relations were re-established. The city and airline selections were made by the Department of Transportation and the lucky airline winners are: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. American Airlines is actually no stranger to the island nation, as it has been offering charter services there since 1991. Just last year the airline made over one thousand chartered flights to Cuba, while JetBlue made over 200 chartered trips. That’s awfully welcome news for an industry that took a fiscal beating lately. The cities that can look forward to the new service had to have have substantial Cuban-American populations already in place. Hence, Florida finds itself the recipient of 14 out of the 20 daily nonstop flights, since it boasts the largest Cuban-American population. The cities include: Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami,  Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa. According to Cuban officials, the number of American travelers to Cuba is up 84%, compared to last year, in just the first half of the year.  But there is still a trade embargo in place, which does include a travel ban. However, there are twelve convenient categories of reasons to fly to Cuba that you can check off should you decide to make your way to Havana any time soon.

Come together…

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Image courtesy of digitalrt/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s a fiscal kumbaya as four U.S. banks offered up their sincerest support for London following the Brexit vote. The gracious supporters include, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. The banks agreed to help British Finance Minister George Osborne find ways to ensure that the U.K. remains the prominent financial player that it always was, pre-Brexit. And of course they all will try and find new and exciting ways to lure and retain big banking to London so that the consequences of the Brexit don’t do the country in completely. While that sentiment no doubt warmed the hearts of investors all over the world, the investment banks could not offer up as much optimism as far as the jobs situation is concerned. After all, “no one in their right mind would currently invest in Britain.” Keeping those jobs there might might be the biggest challenge of all and no one wants to make any promises on that. Especially Jamie Dimon, who had previously mentioned that around 4,000 jobs could make their way out of London. In the meantime, the French wasted no time – I mean NONE! – in announcing to the world that it would make its tax regime as enticing as possible, in a not at all subtle attempt to grab some pricey banking business from London.

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.