* Wine and spirits group Pernod Ricard SA said fiscal first-quarter sales jumped 7.2% year over year on a reported basis due to a dynamic performance in Asian markets, but it cautioned that growth would moderate in the second half of fiscal 2019. The maker of Martell cognac reported that sales in the three-month period through September rose to €2.39 billion from €2.23 billion in the same period a year earlier. On an organic basis, the increase was 10.4%. A mean consensus of analysts' estimates pointed to sales of €2.35 billion, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The French company reiterated its outlook for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.
* Nestlé SA reaffirmed its full-year guidance for 2018 as it reported a 2.9% increase in total sales in the third quarter of the fiscal year, driven by strong organic growth in North America and for infant nutrition globally. For the nine months to the end of September, the Swiss food and beverage giant's sales came in at CHF66.42 billion, up 2% from CHF65.12 billion in the same period a year ago. Organic sales grew 2.8%, with 2.3% real internal growth and a 0.5% increase in pricing. For 2018, Nestlé said it expects organic sales to grow 3%, and underlying trading operating margin improvement in line with its 2020 target. In a separate announcement made the same day, Nestlé said Wan Ling Martello, CEO of the company's Asia, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa division, decided to step down from the company's executive board, effective Dec. 31, "to explore new horizons."
FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION
* French supermarket chain Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA said Oct. 18 that it signed an agreement with SGAM AG2R La Mondiale to sell 14 real estate assets from its Monoprix portfolio for a net amount of €180 million. According to the release, the assets generate an annual rent of €8.6 million. Casino expects to receive the proceeds from the transactions on or before January 2019.
* French hypermarket operator Carrefour SA reported third-quarter sales growth along with progress toward targets under its Carrefour 2022 transformation plan. The company posted total sales of €21.09 billion for the period, an increase of 2.1% on a like-for-like basis compared with a year prior, helped by sales growth of 1.6% in France and 5.1% in Brazil. Sales for Latin America were up 9.7% on a like-for-like basis, offsetting declines of 1.5% for Europe and 2.8% for Asia.
* Walmart Inc.-owned Sam's Club said the membership-based wholesale store chain will expand the same-day grocery delivery service with Instacart to over 100 new outlets by October-end. Sam's Club, which began a pilot of the service in February with the same-day grocery delivery provider, will expand the service to nearly 1,000 new ZIP codes and 90 new markets across the U.S., covering more than half of all Sam's Club outlets.
* Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp. is considering the sale of a minority stake in its food and beverage subsidiary for 90 to 100 Philippine pesos per share, below its maximum price of 140 pesos per share, Reuters reported, citing President Ramon Ang. Citing sources involved in the deal, the report added that the final pricing is set for next week.
* British grocer Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC said its CFO, Trevor Strain, will also become group commercial director, effective immediately. Strain was appointed group chief finance and commercial officer as well. Strain will take over commercial director responsibilities from Darren Blackhurst. The supermarket operator added that Blackhurst will be moving to a projects role.
* Illinois-based GrubHub Inc. said it extended its food delivery service across 19 states in the U.S. With the latest expansion, the online food ordering marketplace said its service is available in over 100 new markets in 2018.
* Constellation Brands Inc. CEO Robert Sands will step down in March 2019 after 11 years in the role, the maker of Corona Extra said. President and COO Bill Newlands will become CEO after Sands steps down. Sands will become executive chairman, replacing his brother Richard Sands. Richard Sands will transition to executive vice chairman.
* Selecta Group BV said it signed a new strategic licensing agreement with Starbucks Corp., giving the vending services supplier rights to develop and operate the coffee chain's self-service concept, called Starbucks on the Go, in Europe. Selecta Group added that Starbucks aims to bring the coffeehouse experience to offices, universities and other public places. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
* Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd. said it received a nonbinding indicative offer from Mexican private equity firm Finaccess Capital to acquire up to 75% of the New Zealand-based restaurant operator in cash for NZ$9.45 per share. Restaurant Brands operates franchises of Yum! Brands Inc. KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell outlets in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. Restaurant Brands recently sold its Starbucks license for NZ$4.4 million. In the latest announcement, the company said it is in talks with Finaccess to seek to agree and finalize the terms of any takeover implementation arrangements, which could result to Finaccess issuing a takeover notice to Restaurant Brands.
* Unilever PLC reported a 4.8% decline in third-quarter revenue for 2018 partly due to the effects of foreign currency translation, although underlying sales, which exclude the impact of acquisitions, disposals or currency changes, rose 3.8% as the company saw improved growth across all divisions. The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company, which has its Amsterdam-listed entity Unilever NV, said revenue in the three months through September fell to €12.53 billion from €13.17 billion in the same period a year ago. A mean consensus of analysts' estimates had pointed to revenue of €12.55 billion, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* Four descendants of Campbell Soup Co. founder and former chairman, John Dorrance, plan to vote in favor of the current board at an annual meeting. The soup company, which is engaged in a proxy war with hedge fund Third Point LLC, said in a statement that the four shareholders along with some other family members collectively hold 41% of the company's shares. Commenting on the matter, Third Point said: "This stunt shows that Campbell's is in for more of the same unless the independent slate is elected in November."
* U.K.-based packaged meat manufacturer Hilton Food Group PLC agreed to purchase a 50% stake in Dalco Food BV, a manufacturer of vegetarian products based in the Netherlands, for an undisclosed amount. Hilton also agreed to form a joint venture agreement with Dalco's shareholders, acquiring an option for the remaining 50% of Dalco's shares in 2024. Hilton will provide its resources to help enable Dalco to expand its range of vegetarian products.
* U.S. chocolate company The Hershey Co. said it has finalized the previously announced acquisition of B&G Foods Inc.'s Pirate Brands puffed rice and corn snack business for $420 million.
* Plant-based food company Beyond Meat Inc. has hired investment banks JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG for its IPO, CNBC reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The report added that it could not immediately determine the food company's IPO valuation. Beyond Meat reportedly did not respond to requests for comment, while the investment banks declined to comment on the matter.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.80% 22,658.16, while the Hang Seng fell 0.03% to 25,454.55.
In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.10% to 7,047.51, and Euronext 100 rose 0.33% to 1,004.38.
On the macro front
The jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook survey, the leading indicators report, the Energy Information Administration natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.
Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.
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