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  • Today - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

  • 2:18 AM
    • Imperial Tobacco has closed approximately $13B of loans to finance its acquisition of several brands and assets of Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI).
    • The financing covers the $7.1B acquisition of cigarette brands, Winston, Maverick, Kool, Salem and blu, which Reynolds wished to unload to clear the way for its merger with Lorillard (NYSE:LO).
    • As part of the purchase, Imperial will also take over Lorillard's national sales force, offices and production facilities.
    | Comment!
  • Monday, September 1, 2014

  • 3:10 PM
    • Though Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) grew its U.S. comparable-store sales by an impressive 7% in FQ3 to top peers, and has swatted away challengers before, the company could see some new competition in 2H and into 2015.
    • Peet's Coffee & Tea plans to open 16 locations in Chicago, several of which sit in close proximity to Starbucks (SBUX) outlets.
    • Peet's is owned by coffee brand giant Joh. A. Benckiser which directly challenges Starbucks in Europe, but has been more conservative to take on the Seattle giant in the U.S.
    • The development in the Windy City follows a trend in NYC of more indie coffee shops opening aside Starbucks stores. A coffee app called Cups has also launched over the summer to some positive early results.
    • What to watch: The westward march of Dunkin' Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN) and the potential expansion of Tim Hortons (NYSE:THI) could also be factors in the U.S. coffee market, although many analysts think the power of the SBUX brand and the continued strong demand for coffee will leave multi-channel Starbucks in solid shape.
    | 9 Comments
  • 10:45 AM
    • Luxottica (NYSE:LUX) founder Leonardo Del Vecchio is returning to lead the company as executive chairman following the exit of CEO Andrea Guerra. Sources say Guerra will be replaced by co-chief executives, one of whom will be CFO Enrico Cavatorta.
    • The most recent dispute between Del Vecchio and Guerra centered around the company's recent deal with Google to design, develop and distribute Google Glass.
    | Comment!
  • 7:15 AM
    • Fending off a challenge from Under Armour (NYSE:UA), Nike (NYSE:NKE) holds on to the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, signing him to a new deal possibly worth $300M over the next ten years, and $350M over the next 20, reports the WSJ.
    • With Durant's original 7-year, $60M deal set to expire, Under Armour had made an aggressive play for the superstar, but Nike had the right to match any offer and reportedly exceeded Under Armour's bid on Saturday night.
    • Nike has the dominant share in the $4.5B basketball shoe market, and 2013 sales of Durant's Nike KD shoes of $175M compared to $300M for those under the name of LeBron James. Under Armour's total footwear net revenues were $299M in 2013.
    | 13 Comments
  • 3:30 AM
    • Heineken (OTCQX:HEINY) has agreed to sell its Mexican packaging business Empaque to Crown Holdings (NYSE:CCK), resulting in an after-tax gain of €300M ($393M).
    • The $1.2B in cash deal will close by the end of this year, pending regulatory approval.
    | 1 Comment
  • 3:13 AM
    • General Motors (NYSE:GM) is readying production for cars with eye and head tracking technology that can tell whether drivers are distracted or alert them if they are not spending enough time looking in certain areas.
    • The tracking devices will be provided by Seeing Machines (OTC:SEEMF), which has teamed up with Takata (OTCPK:TKTDY) to supply the equipment for up to 500K vehicles over the next three to five years.
    • "Safety doesn’t sell cars – sexy sells cars," says Seeing Machines CEO Ken Kroeger. "But once cameras are there, they can be expanded for other features and purposes."
    • In the future, the tracking devices may allow for drivers to activate an app by sight or may even be used to detect the identity of a driver.
    | 6 Comments
  • 1:32 AM
    • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NASDAQ:NCLH) is said to be in advanced talks with Prestige Cruises, and may announce an agreement to acquire the latter for $3B as early as this week, Reuters reports.
    • Prestige Cruises posted revenues of $1.2B in 2013, up 6% from the year earlier.
    • Private equity firm Apollo Global (NYSE:APO), the owner of Prestige Cruises, also owns a 20% stake in Norwegian Cruise. Prestige filed for an IPO in January.
    • Competitors: CCL, RCL
    | Comment!
  • Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • 6:15 PM
    • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has a target date of October 13 for its NYSE launch, according to Fiat (OTCPK:FIATY) CEO Sergio Marchionne.
    • major merger hurdle was cleared this week by Fiat to help keep the reorganization on track.
    • Paying for Fiat's five-year, €48B ($64B) growth plan could be a challenge. Marchionne says a decision on a capital increase will be made in October after the new FCA shares are trading hands.
    • What to watch: Chrysler has had strong sales in the U.S. this year and is tipped by Kelley Blue Book to show double-digit growth for August. Automobile industry analysts think the NYSE listing could provide another jolt for the brand and help reinforce the trend of the Big Three (GM, F) out-performing some foreign automakers (Volvo, Volkswagen, Hyundai) unable to compete at scale.
    | 10 Comments
  • Friday, August 29, 2014

  • 6:55 PM
    • RadioShack (NYSE:RSH) shares have racked up four straight double-digit percentage gains on surging volume since speculation began Tuesday that the company would get a rescue financing package to help stave off bankruptcy.
    • Standard General reportedly has held talks with RSH about ways to finance some or all of the company’s debt, including the loan package provided by its term lenders; paying down the debt could give RSH enough leeway to close a large number of underperforming stores, helping the company burn less cash.
    • On Thursday more than 50M RSH shares changed hands, the single highest one-day amount for the stock since at least 1984, and another 40M traded today, indicating a heavy retail trade plus a big short squeeze.
    • Analyst sentiment remains heavily negative: RSH “needs much more than just a refinance in order to correct the overhanging issue of ongoing fundamental weakness," said B. Riley’s Scott Tighman, the analyst with a $0 price target on the stock.
    | 13 Comments
  • 4:41 PM
    • Shortly after the NYT and others reported Time Warner has ended talks to buy a stake in Vice Media, the FT has reported Vice is wrapping up a deal to sell a 10% stake to A&E Networks for $250M. The deal's $2.5B valuation is well above the $1.4B valuation Vice received while selling a 5% stake to Fox last year.
    • Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Hearst each own 50% of A&E. Thus, the deal would give Disney a 5% indirect stake in Vice. The media giant only 5 months removed from agreeing to buy YouTube content provider Maker Studios for up to $950M.
    • Vice's assets include the Vice.com site, a large network of online content channels, a TV studio, and a branding agency. Its viewer base skews young.
    • The FT adds Vice will "produce digital and cable programming for A&E as part of the deal," but won't take over any of A&E's channels.
    • Vice CEO Shane Smith: "It’s a great deal for us ... It means we can preserve our independence and it gives us a war chest for another three years of dramatic growth."
    | 2 Comments
  • 2:39 PM
    • Moody's upgrades the credit rating of Michaels Company (MIK -0.4%) after seeing the company use some of its IPO cash to lower its debt load.
    • The rating goes to B1 from B2 on a stable outlook from the agency and reflects its view of Michaels' scale and strong market position.
    | Comment!
  • 2:09 PM
    • Kraft Foods Group (KRFT +0.6%) recalls over 7.6K cases of different varieties of regular Kraft American Singles Pasteurized Prepared Cheese in the U.S.
    • The recall action is due to a supplier that didn't store the product under the proper temperature standards.
    | Comment!
  • 1:45 PM
    • Time Warner (TWX) has ended talks to buy a stake in Vice Media, sources tell The New York Times.
    • Negotiations got tripped up on what the media concern's valuation should be for purposes of striking a deal price.
    | Comment!
  • 1:05 PM
    • Coca-Cola Life made its U.S. and Mexico debut this week in a limited roll-out.
    • The company is using The Fresh Market (TFM -0.7%) selling channel to test U.S. response to the stevia-sweetened soda drink, while a broader launch in Mexico is underway.
    • By the numbers: Coca-Cola Life contains 60 calories per 8-ounce can vs. 93 calories for regular Coke.
    • What to watch: The new drink is an attempt by Coca-Cola to create a mid-calorie segment splash which has been a losing proposition for beverage industry peers in the past. Execs think a different marketing spin will take Coca-Cola Life over the top.
    | 8 Comments
  • 11:35 AM
    • Audi (OTCQX:VLKAY) recalls 70K vehicles due to a potential issue with the brake booster.
    • Diesel varieties of the Audi A4, A5, A6, A7, and Q7 models from 2012 are part of the recall.
    | Comment!
  • 11:16 AM
    • Energizer (ENR -0.6%) sets its corporate lineup for the Personal Care and Household Products businesses after the separation of the company sometime before next summer.
    • Ward Klein, currently CEO at Energizer, will be the Executive Chairman of the Board of the Personal Care entity.
    • J. Patrick Mulcahy, currently Chairman of the Board of Directors at Energizer, will serve as the Executive Chairman of the Board of the Household Products entity.
    • The full slate of officers for each business have also been determined.
    | Comment!
  • 11:08 AM
    • Comments out of China from BYD Company's Wang Chuanfu are creating a stir in the electric vehicle industry.
    • Chuanfu maintains that a new consumer tax on gas is being considered by Beijing.
    • He notes that even a 0.2 yuan per liter tax adds up to "hundreds of billions" which could be funneled by the government to support EV infrastructure and development programs.
    • Tesla Motors (TSLA +2.3%) printed an all-time high of $270.60 earlier with the China news helping to boost sentiment a bit.
    | 71 Comments
  • 10:27 AM
    | 8 Comments
  • 10:15 AM
    • Traffic is still exceedingly strong at Chipotle (CMG -0.5%) stores, tips OTR Global.
    • Chipotle has been implementing price increases on a variety of menu items.
    • Same-store sales for Chipotle dazzled in Q2 with a 17.3% Y/Y rise.
    • Last week, Cleveland Research came up with the same conclusion as OTR Global on Q3 trends at Chipotle.
    | 2 Comments
  • 10:07 AM
    • Hershey (HSY -0.5%) initiates a corporate brand makeover which includes a new logo with more of its well-known brands integrated into the design.
    • The company says the new branding will help it present itself as a modern innovative company in global marketing campaigns.
    | 1 Comment
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