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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.