Today - Tuesday, March 11, 2014
- Anne Sweeney, the head of Disney's (DIS) ABC unit and the co-chair of its cable network ops, tells the Hollywood Reporter in a joint interview with CEO Bob Iger she's leaving by year's end to become a TV director.
- Iger suggests Sweeney's replacement will be an internal hire, and that a decision will be made quickly. "My goal is to do it fast because Anne and I both feel that getting someone in the job while pilot season is in full swing [through May] so that they can at least have some direct experience..."
- Meanwhile, the NY Post reports Facebook (FB) COO/ad chief Sheryl Sandberg, already a Disney board member, has "had conversations about her interest" in becoming Disney's CEO following Iger's planned 2016 departure.
- Though CFO Jay Rasulo and parks chief Thomas Staggs have been viewed as the media giant's top CEO candidates, the board reportedly wants to "cast a wider net."
- The Daily Mail reported last week Sandberg was planning a 2016 California Senate run. But a source close to Sandberg denied the report to Business Insider soon afterwards.
- Tesla (TSLA) will end all electric car sales in New Jersey starting April 1, after it failed to head off a state regulatory proposal making it illegal for it to sell vehicles to consumers without a dealer.
- The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission approved a rule change today that requires auto retailers to have a franchise agreement with an auto manufacturer to be granted a license to sell cars in the state, joining Arizona and Texas by insisting TSLA follow the traditional formula of selling vehicles through licensed dealer franchises.
- TSLA's VP of business development said today during a conference call that Gov. Chris Christie's administration "abrogated" an agreement to hold off action on the proposal.
- TSLA fell 1.8% during regular trading, mostly in the final two hours; shares -0.4% AH.
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- VeriFone (PAY) expects FQ2 revenue of $440M-$445M and EPS of $0.30-$0.32 vs. a consensus of $439.1M and $0.31. FY14 (ends in Oct.) guidance is for revenue of $1.78B-$1.81B and EPS of $1.40 vs. a consensus of $1.79B and $1.39.
- After declining 12% Y/Y in FQ4, revenue grew 2% in FQ1 thanks to a 19% increase in services revenue (boosted some by acquisitions) to $174.9M. System (hardware) revenue fell 7% to $261.2M, but that's better than FQ4's 23% drop.
- Gross margin fell 200 bps Y/Y to 42%. Opex jumped 18% Y/Y to $152M (exc. amortization costs), with R&D and G&A spend each rising 27%. Sales/marketing spend rose 10.5%.
- North American sales -2% Y/Y, Latin America -3.4%, EMEA +3.4%, Asia-Pac +6.3%.
- Shares have crossed their 52-week high of $30.72 in AH trading.
- FQ1 results, PR
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- Nissan (NSANY) is seeing some nice momentum in China with sales on the rise.
- The Japanese automaker ended the year with sales growth in the region of 17% to tally 1.26M vehicles sold.
- A joint venture with Dongfeng delays the reporting of Nissan's business in China to give the company a nice little tailwind to look forward to for Q1.
- Disney (DIS -0.7%) is in talks with Maker Studios about an acquisition, according to Re/code.
- The transaction, rumored to be at $500M or more, could be the largest investment in an YouTube-based property ever by a media giant.
- The add-on will also follow a recent trend by Disney to expand through acquisition and partnerships instead of in-house development.
- Time Warner (TWX) has a nice little piece of Maker Studios through its venture capital arm.
- Wal-Mart (WMT +0.2%) CFO Charles Holley says the company has seen "very good sales" over the last few weeks.
- The retailer was looking for a bounce after early February traffic was slow due to weather.
- The exec's comments were made at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2014 Consumer & Retail Conference (webcast).
- A survey by research firm Brand Keys indicates that the least engaging brands in retail include Sears, Kmart, and American Apparel.
- The trio were at the bottom of the 555 brands included in the consumer survey.
- No shocker, but sales performance has also been an issue for Sears Holdings (SHLD -0.7%) and American Apparel (APP -1.6%) with consumers tuning out.
- Men's Wearhouse (MW +6.1%) confirms it struck a deal to buy Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (JOSB +3.8%) for $65 per share at a total deal value of $1.8B.
- Boards of both companies gave their unanimous approval after months of mild bickering.
- Men's Wearhouse estimates it will see a benefit of $100M-$150M from annual run-rate annual synergies realized over three years.
- A plan by Men's Wearhouse to buy Eddie Bauer has been aborted.
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- Starbucks (SBUX +1.8%) CEO Howard Schultz was pretty firm in an interview on Fox Business Network that the company doesn't plan to hike coffee prices despite higher commodity cost.
- "I suspect coffee prices might go up even higher. We will anticipate that and most importantly, we can manage through it. We do not have any intention at this time to raise prices," says Schultz/
- The company is protected for at least a year against higher prices due to its forward pricing strategy.
- Schultz also says he sees a "seismic shift" in mobile payments. Starbucks remains a retail leader in the area with close to 10M customers using its app and has several new customer-friendly initiatives on tap to be released this year.
- It's crystal clear that Starbucks isn't denying or challenging the Amazon Effect, but is planning around it.
- FBN interview (video)
- A top exec with Twentieth-Century Fox (FOXA -1.2%) says the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable raises issues of competitiveness in the pay-TV sector.
- Though Fox president Chase Carey mainly cites the dominance of a combined Comcast-TWC over consumer choices and costs in broadband, Fox is also at risk of losing negotiating leverage on carriage deals with a beefed-up Comcast.