Portland, Oregon - http://www.cafemama.com
Sarah Gilbert is a blogger by trade and a finance geek at heart. She cut her teeth on her first Excel spreadsheet full of financials at the tender age of 21, when she began her investment banking career in First Union's Loan Syndications group. She went on to get her MBA from Wharton, work at Merrill Lynch and fall in love with analyzing company strategy and endless rows of numbers. So she tried her hand at *setting* strategy, working for a number of exciting and under-discovered startups in various product management roles, all of which seemed to center around writing business plans and, yes, making spreadsheets. She got into blogging as a marketing strategy and loved it so, it took. She now blogs about finance while her three little boys are asleep in her beloved 1912 Portland home.
Whole Foods Markets, Inc.
), once the grocery darling of the investing market, took a serious wrong turn somewhere in the M&A market in 2007. Ever since the ill-fated acquisition of Wild Oats, WFMI has taken a dive, plunging from highs in the $60s (2006) and $50s (until late 2007) to as low as $8.68 this past December. So it was with great joy that investors heralded news of the company's fiscal third quarter results last night
, exceeding analyst expectations, with earnings per share of $0.25, or $35.0 million, and sales up 2% over the year-ago quarter, to $1.9 billion. Same-store sales declined compared to the year-earlier quarter, but reversed their declining trend, down 2.5% from Q3 2008 but up from Q2 2009.
Continue reading Whole Foods shares up on news of more whole foods
Long-time investors in Starbucks
) have not had a great ride over the past 24 months, in which the stock tumbled to a several-year low, hitting bottom in November 2008 at $7.06. It's a far cry from the growth stock dreams of 2006, where the stock regularly scored in the upper $30s. Today's close, $14.69, is more than double that day in November; but still many investors are likely below water. And while the third quarter 2009 results won't push the stock back toward its 2006 highs, at the very least, it's cracking $16 in after-hours trading.
Continue reading Starbucks gives investors jolt with Q3 2009 earnings
Kodak's announcement today is evidence that sentimentality is dead in 21st century business.
The film world has, after all, been moping since Polaroid stopped producing its iconic instant camera film in early 2008 (take heart, Polaroid fans, "The Impossible Project" is working to reinvent instant film in an old Polaroid factory in the Netherlands). But today Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK) said it was halting production of the complex-yet-storied Kodachrome film, immediately. Not only does the product make up less than 1% of its worldwide still-picture film sales; it's extraordinarily expensive to produce.
Continue reading Kodak pulls Kodachrome in a blow to sentimentality
I see it most on Friday afternoons, no matter what the weather: people dressed in uniforms from blue-collar jobs, or dirty overalls, trudging down the street towards their homes, carrying a case of beer, in cans. Sometimes there will be another item in a plastic bag from the corner convenience store: a bag of potato chips, maybe. But the beer never changes.
Even more of it than last year, says MillerCoors, the U.S. combination of Molson Coors Brewing Company (NYSE: TAP
) and SABMiller Plc (OTC: SBMRY
). According to MillerCoors Chief Commercial Officer Tom Long, growth is slowing
but, despite a recession, is slowing less than wine or spirits growth; down to 0.6% for 2009-2012 compared to 0.9% between 2004-2008. Among Miller and Coors brands showing market share growth are Miller Lite, Coors Light, Miller Genuine Draft 64, Blue Moon Beer (a craft beer), Miller High Life and Keystone Light. First quarter sales for the company were up 3.8% for profit of $68.5 million.
Continue reading As economy flounders, people still drink beer
Starbucks, were the company to own up to the history of coffee, owes its origins -- not to the cafes of Italy where Howard Schultz drank the future -- but the coffeehouse culture of Central Europe. It wasn't as glamorous in the 80s and 90s to admit it, perhaps, and certainly there was no culture, coffeeshop or otherwise, to be had until McDonald's opened in Warsaw in the early 1990s.
Ironically, then, the Polish youth are embracing the newly-opened Starbucks cafes. Washington Post op-ed columnist Anne Applebaum is in Warsaw, and says
that the new Starbucks there are met with open wallets and customers eager to buy the expensive brew and flaunt it, with "the famous green label facing outward."
Continue reading Starbucks in Warsaw: It's ironic, but it's working
Ad pages have been falling throughout the magazine publishing industry, and titles have been shut down at a breakneck pace this year, with newspapers not far behind. Some titles seem immune to the problem; or, at the very least, the lesser of many evilly-immense decreases. Scientific American
, as a unit of book publishing juggernaut Macmillan, was one of those at only an 18.1% ad page decline in 2009's first quarter. And the title, 164 years old, has weathered many storms in the industry; it's as solid as an oak.
Yesterday, news of a reorganization had industry onlookers worried that a few employees would be let go. By the end of the day, media watchers were shocked as Editor-in-Chief John Rennie, who's held that role for 15 years, and at least 20 other employees were laid off
Continue reading Layoffs at 'Scientific American' show depth of ad meltdown
If I was worried about the fate of Martha Stewart's flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living
, perhaps my concerns were unfounded. The statement from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
) could not be more bold, more unfailingly optimistic (like Martha herself): Martha is getting a raise
It's a big one, from her current CEO salary of $900,000 a year to at least $2 million annually for the next three years, plus a hefty "retention incentive" of $3 million today. But where was she going?
you might ask. After all, the company is her very self
, media-opolied. As far as I can tell, she was going nowhere, but without her there is little left. Martha's aspirational persona has made an indelible mark on our culture, one that has no danger of falling victim to our economic downturn. She represents the soul of the DIY ethos; not for nothing do people say of any well-executed craft, especially one involving vintage pieces found at a thrift store, "that's so Martha!"
Continue reading Martha Stewart is still money
Quietly, chocolate companies have been snapping up little makers of organic and fair trade chocolate; Cadbury, PLC (NYSE: CBY) started the trend by buying Green and Black's in 2005, and then Hershey (NYSE: HSY) jumped on the bandwagon, buying Dagoba Organic Chocolate in 2006.
Since then, fairly traded and organic chocolate bars have become more and more popular among consumers; while exact numbers are hard to find, organic chocolate sales have more than quadrupled since 2000 and were $94 million in 2007. Fair trade chocolate sales have been nearly doubling on a year-over-year basis since 2000.
Continue reading Sustainable chocolate: Next must-have ingredient for snack companies
While Playboy (NYSE: PLA) executives have never been accused of being straight-laced, one might assume they'd be smart enough, oh, to restrain themselves from groping, "bombarding" with sexually-explicit emails, and subsequently firing a lawyer.
But in allegations that (if true) would surely prove the preconception that the porn industry objectifies women, Chicago divorce attorney Corri Fetman filed suit Monday alleging that Thomas Hagopian, an executive in the digital branch of the publishing empire, sexually harassed her, then canceled her column when she rebuffed him. She seeks $4.5 million in damages, including "gender violence."
Continue reading Playboy columnist sues for sexual harassment
When we first noted a small-ish recall which were recalled yesterday and, at first blush, the alert looks as if it could be as widespread and enormous as the peanut butter recall (mollified a little by the fact peanuts are far more ubiquitous than pistachios). recall of canned pistachios early yesterday
, it was limited to Kroger
) and, frankly, made little in the way of waves. Later, the news began to hearken to the beginning of the peanut recall
, in which I wondered how many foods could be impacted (oh, I had no idea!). The pistachio nuts' originator, Setton Pistachio
of Terra Bella, Calif., decided to recall its 2008 crop after Kraft
) tested some of its pistachio-containing products and found "several types of salmonella." Where the possibly tainted pistachios ended up isn't clear, but Kraft pulled a trail mix with pistachios.
The nuts were sent in 1,000-pound and 2000-pound bags to wholesalers, who then parceled the pistachios further to redistribute them among retailers and manufacturers. As I wrote on DailyFinance
, this is yet another example of a food industry that is built on logistics, not food; quality ingredients are marketing, not reality. Neither Kroger nor Kraft nor even (to point a finger at random) Unilever's Haagen-Dazs ice cream
can trace to the individual farm the origin of all of their ingredients, no matter how many times the packaging mentions it.
It's further proof that food safety is not truly possible in the industry as it currently stands.
"Hello to a new day," reads a sign at my neighborhood Starbucks Corp.
). On the sign is advertised one of the "breakfast pairings at an attractive price," or what many critics have called Starbucks' attempt at "value meals": a Bacon Artisan Sandwich and a Tall Pike Place Coffee. No price is listed on the chalkboard, although new static-cling signs on the windows advertise a latte and "Perfect Oatmeal" for $3.95.
The question on everyone's lips, of course, is: will this work? Will customers buy it, figuratively, and, by taking out their wallets and buying
? While I was impressed with the good taste of the sandwich
, giving a thumbs up (and deciding that I would, indeed, choose to have breakfast instead of just coffee with the new meal deal -- at about $2 more, it seems to approach "bargain" status), the reaction of customers who don't typically shop at Starbucks; the real target of this campaign (along with those who've defected to McDonalds) was not encouraging.
Continue reading Starbucks $3.95 breakfast: Brand-new day?
The reports of newspapers' demise have not been greatly exaggerated. The Rocky Mountain News
, Colorado's oldest newspaper and one of two daily papers in Denver, announced it will publish its final edition
, Friday, February 27th.
The date is two months shy of its 150-year anniversary.Update:
The final issue of the paper was printed today
, February 27th, with a commemorative edition whose headline read "Goodbye Colorado" and which included some of the newspapers' Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs and stories. The headline on the front page read "Stop the Presses."
The paper had been sharing business services, including advertising and printing, with The Denver Post
in a U.S. Justice Department-approved arrangement since 2001. As of Saturday, however, the editorial voices in the community will be reduced to one.
Continue reading Rocky Mountain News closing just shy of 150-year anniversary
Heinz has been working on its focus over the past seven years, and the strategy, to reduce its variety of products and concentrate on "money" brands
, including organic varieties of its popular lines, seems to be paying off. HJ Heinz Co.
) has reduced its number of SKUs by 50% since 2002, and has plans to trim that number another 15% to 20% by 2011. If this quarter's profits are any indication, it's the way to go.
Continue reading Heinz startles analysts with tangy profits
Coffee is set to be "one of the most promising commodities of 2009," according to a leading Swiss commodities analyst, who predicts coffee prices will rise
, likely squeezing the already-decaffeinated profits at Starbucks
) and Kraft
), maker of Maxwell House, among other major coffee retailers. Current prices are $1.1305 a pound, only up a 0.9% on the year, but experts predict greatly increasing costs due to declining production in Brazil and Colombia. Coffee futures
are currently at $1.20 per pound for December 2009 contracts, and $1.227 per pound for March 2010 contracts.
How much price runup are we talking? It could be increasing a whopping 50% to $1.70 per pound by June 30, according to former Merrill Lynch analyst Judith Ganes-Chase, who runs a consulting firm in Katonah, New York.
Continue reading Coffee demand outstrips supply; coffee stocks up for commodity squeeze?
When the economy gets tough, eat fried chicken. This must be the mantra of many Britons; at least, that's the way Yum! Brands
) is betting. The company this weekend announced it was opening 200 to 300 new stores in north England and south Wales
over the next few years, increasing its current concentration by about 30%. On top of relatively good earnings reported for the fiscal fourth quarter earlier this month
, Yum! Brands is looking almost ... optimistic. Could it be?
It could. Not only is KFC opening outlets in England and China as the rest of the world cowers in job-cutting fear of the Things To Come, but the stock is in a hopeful place; at about $28.70 this afternoon, up 0.24% on the day and, having recovered from a low near $22 in November 2008, seemingly headed in an upward arc toward its year-ago territory above $35. At this price, and with this great hope for the future, KFC could be a good buy.
Continue reading KFC opening up to 300 new British outlets
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