Beth Gaston Moon
Chicago, IL - http://
With over a decade of experience as an editor and market analyst, Beth Gaston Moon writes about stocks and pop culture from her home in Chicago, IL.
It's not enough to be on every metropolitan street corner; now Starbucks (SBUX) is trying to be even bigger (in one sense of the word) -- and faster, too. Thirsty folks longing for a Big Gulp-style coffee beverage are in luck as the Seattle-based coffee chain is set to roll out its new "Trenta" size for iced drinks.
The new size, seven ounces bigger than the Venti, will be 31 ounces. Trenta, by the way, means "thirty" in Italian. It's also a valley in Slovenia and a small town in the Italian province of Cosenza. This new size trumps Dunkin Donuts, which offers its iced beverages in 24-ounce serving sizes.
Continue reading Starbucks: New Size, New Payment Method
Never in the fickle landscape of American fashion has there been a more polarizing brand than Ed Hardy. Some (Bret Michaels, Jon Gosselin, my old boss) love the pricey tees and hoodies inspired by the art of tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy. Some feel it is at best gaudy and at worst a sign of the imminent demise of civilization as we know it.
City officials in Stonnington, Australia are in the latter camp, it seems, as they have banned all Ed Hardy clothing. While this "law" is only enforced by a crudely-worded (and NSFW) sign posted on the door of a defunct Hardy shop, it's a sign that the fashion isn't welcome in the town.
Continue reading Ed Hardy Banned in Australian Town
Ooh la la! Fans of the old-school Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF
) catalog have something to giggle about. After seven long years, the risque quarterly featuring scantily clad young adults is being reinstated
. And even though the catalog is ostensibly just marketing itself -- advertising the clothes that the models are barely wearing -- it will cost you $10 (it is available for pre-order now at the Abercrombie website and will hit shelves July 17).
When the recession hit and allowances dried up, ANF suffered even more than most of its peers as teens and young adults offered for similarly trendy fashion at cheaper prices, turning to the Gap's (GPS
) Old Navy, Aeropostale (ARO
), and American Eagle (AEO
) as substitutes. After months of resistance (or denial), ANF finally cut the prices on some items, but it is still facing lackluster sales and revenue numbers. The shares, meanwhile, are down 50% over the last two years.
Continue reading Sex(y) Sells: Abercrombie Bringing Back Controversial Catalog
Not satisfied to wear the crown among fast-food companies, McDonald's (MCD
) continues to strive toward new ways to attract customers into its establishments in the off-peak hours. The company has already launched a salvo at Starbucks (SBUX
) with its McCafe concept of lattes and cappuccinos, and now it is moving into the smoothie market. You may remember the company first unveiled the concept
at the Winter Olympics, with familiar faces such as Picabo Street endorsing the frozen beverages.
After roughly a year of research and iteration, the smoothies are coming
to a McDonald's near you next month, in two flavors -- Strawberry Banana and Wild Berry. Meanwhile, MCD is using some of its Austin and Michigan stores to test "frozen juice blends."
Continue reading McDonald's Eyes Yet Another Market -- Smoothies
Research in Motion (RIMM
) shareholders may be in for a bumpy Friday after the company fell short
of sales estimates in its Thursday evening earnings report. But first, the good news. Fiscal first-quarter profit rose almost 20% to $769 million, or $1.38 per share, up from $643 million ($1.12) in the year-ago period. Analysts were targeting per-share earnings
Quarterly revenue, however, rose 24% to $4.24 billion, falling short of the $4.35 billion expected by analysts. While the BlackBerry smart phone remains a top choice, especially among business men and women, competition is closing in from Apple's(AAPL
) iPhone, in all of its incarnations, as well as Motorola's (MOT
) Droid. And the new BlackBerry models just don't seem to be coming to market as quickly as its rivals. While increased competition is no fun, the number of smart phone users globally
is actually increasing -- and its a market that is still largely untapped (hard to believe if you live in America).
Continue reading Research in Motion Poised to Drop After Earnings Report
As promised, Nike, Inc. (NKE
) reported earnings
after the close today, and it was a bit of good news, and a bit of bad news. Net income at the athletic apparel giant rose to $1.06 per share, a 53% rise from year-ago results. Sales were up 8% to $5.1 billion. These numbers, respectively, were just above and just below analysts' estimates for per-share results of $1.05 on $5.14 billion in revenue (according to Thomson Reuters).
Orders in North America rose 8%, while orders rose 19% in Greater China and jumped 30% in emerging markets. Estimates for global future orders rose 7% to $8.8 billion and rose 10% excluding currency charges. While this momentum in China and elsewhere helped buoy profits, higher labor wages and an appreciating yuan in the People's Republic may be a detriment in the coming months, according to analysts.
Continue reading Nike Moving Lower Post-Earnings
We've all seen those gently worded, politically correct suggestions in our hotel rooms - "____ gallons of water are used each day cleaning towels and sheets that have been used just once..." While guests are invited to re-use sheets or towels in the name of environmental friendliness, the conservation serves another purpose -- lowering housekeeping costs.
With occupancy rates on the decline, hotel chains are looking for ways to limit expenses, and one of these ways is by reducing housekeeping efforts
. Some Wyhndham Worldwide (WYN
) chains, such as Howard Johnson, Ramada, and Super 8, leave linens unchanged whenever possible. WYN's Days Inn chain is soon going to adopt a three-day change rule (I'm assuming all hotels still change between guests, regardless of the length of stay).
Continue reading Hotel Chains to Cut Back on Housekeeping
Well, millionaires of the world, your club has become a bit less elite. The number of millionaires across the globe rose by an astounding 17%
in 2009, according to the 14th annual "World Wealth Report" published by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini SA. That's a lot of wealth in a time of global economic crisis.
But first, what defines a millionaire? No, having a baseball-card collection that might
fetch that kind of a price tag doesn't count (unfortunately). The way the Merrill study defines it is those households with at least $1 million in investable assets, not including
primary residences. There are now 10 million of these households in the world, up from 8.6 million in 2008.
Continue reading Number of World's Millionaires on the Rise
After years of pretty staunch resistance, Walmart (WMT
) may finally be gaining access to the nation's third-biggest market: Chicago. In the past, labor unions and other organizations had banned the retailing giant from the metro area, citing unreasonable salaries and unfair treatment.
In an effort to respond to these concerns, WMT has devised the "Chicago Community Investment Partnership
," which carries enough economic clout to win over the Windy City's decision-makers. As Alderman Anthony A. Beale summed up in a release, "most of all, [the city of Chicago] need(s) good jobs."
The Partnership, to be carried out over the next five years, promises the following:
Continue reading Walmart Finally Coming to Chicago?
Good news for those of you who haven't yet hopped on the e-reader bandwagon; now you can climb aboard for cheaper. A pricing battle between Barnes & Noble (BKS
) - which makes the Nook -- and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN
) -- parent of the Kindle -- leaves consumers the winners, as the devices are now priced south of $200
The WiFi-only Nook is now available for just $149 (the 3G version is priced at $199) and the 3G-enabled Kindle has been marked down to $189 from $259. That's a 27% savings. It's also conveniently $10 less than the comparable Nook.
Continue reading Amazon and Nook Prices Drop as E-reader Battle Wages On
Earlier this morning, Elizabeth Harrow wrote about a call seller
in front-month Las Vegas Sands (LVS
) options, expressing a moderately bearish outlook. That wasn't all the excitement in the Sands pits today, however, as we also saw call-spread activity
in the September series. In contrast to the call selling, this particular trade represented a moderately bullish thesis.
In late-morning action, more than 8,000 calls had changed hands simultaneously on both the September 23 and 27 strikes. Given the open interest levels heading into today's session, it is probable that this volume was initiated to open. It looks as though the 23-strike calls (in-the-money by more than $4) were bought for $6.08 per contract while the 27-strike calls (in-the-money by about 60 cents) were sold for $3.48 each, resulting in a net debit of $2.60 per bull call spread.
Continue reading More Options Volume in Las Vegas Sands; This Time on the Bull Side
Last week, Steven Mallas asked, Disney's 'Toy Story 3' Is Here: Does the Market Care? We'll see Monday how Wall Street rewards Walt Disney Company's (DIS) shares, but this weekend's box-office receipts indicate that moviegoers very much care about the continuing adventures of Buzz, Woody, and the rest of the gang. Fans were waiting anxiously for the latest installment of the Tom-Hanks-led franchise, which hit theaters initially in 1995 (part 2 was released in 1999).
The film was a strong number-one at the box office this weekend (the 11th Pixar title to nab the top spot) and secured $109 million in North American ticket sales. Analysts are now targeting a domestic gross of more than $400 million. This was Pixar's best opening ever (even when adjusting for inflation).
Continue reading 'Toy Story' Franchise Is Alive and Well
I remember 15 years ago, I rarely felt more satisfied than when I sold an unwanted CD for a decent price (still looking for someone to take that Spin Doctors album off my hands). It was also a rush to score a CD that was new (and cheap) to me, even if it had been dismissed by its former owner. That business may have suffered a precipitous fall, the trade of used goods continues to thrive among the gaming community.
Gamestop (GME) makes much of its business (27% in the last quarter, to be exact) in the used trade, and it makes good business sense. Once a consumer buys a title from, say, Electronic Arts (ERTS), the publisher has made its money. The profit from used discs goes to the seller and the middle man (which happens to be Gamestop). While used games comprised just 27% of Gamestop sales last quarter, they made up 48% of the company's gross profit.
Continue reading Best Buy to Start Dealing in Used Games
The Limited is under Limited Brands (LTD
) no more. The retail company unloaded
the remaining 25% of the eponymous women's apparel retailer to private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, which already held 75% of the company. The final chunk of the 220-store chain sold for roughly $32 million. Sun bought its initial 75% stake in the name in August 2007.
Sun Capital's influence has been good for The Limited, which posted positive pretax annual earnings for the first time since 1993 (ironically, that's the year when I spent 90% of my allowance on their clothes. Honeycomb sweaters, anyone?).
Continue reading Limited Brands Sells The Limited
Research in Motion (RIMM
) shares closed down Wednesday, under-performing the broader market, which finished near break even. RIMM didn't report any news of its own accord, but investors likely reacted to an ill-received earnings guidance from mobile-phone peer Nokia Corporation (NOK
). A large-scale options trader evidently used yesterday's pullback as an opportunity to scoop up some longer-dated call options
Early yesterday, a block of around 7,000 out-of-the-money January 85 calls hit the tape for $1.45 per contract ($145 apiece), for a total premium of slightly more than $1 million paid. While open interest is already 10,000 at this strike, it appears these calls were bought to open, judging from an increase in implied volatility (and the fact that these options have more than six months until expiration).
Continue reading Bulls Buying Calls in Research in Motion
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