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Unilever scraps HQ move; Costco fiscal Q4'18 EPS misses estimates

TOP NEWS

* Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever Group decided to abandon a plan to simplify the corporate structure of its listed entities, Unilever PLC and Unilever NV, and to move its headquarters to the Netherlands. In a filing to the London Stock Exchange, Unilever said the board determined that the proposal to simplify Unilever's status had not received support from a significant group of shareholders.

* Costco Wholesale Corp.'s fiscal fourth-quarter diluted EPS narrowly missed Street expectations as the company's GAAP net income matched analyst expectations. Diluted EPS for the quarter ended Sept. 2 totaled $2.36, missing the mean consensus estimate for GAAP EPS of $2.37 compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Net income attributable to Costco for the quarter was $1.04 billion, matching the mean consensus estimate for GAAP net income compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence and above the $919 million the warehouse retailer reported for the year-ago quarter.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Luxury sportswear brand Lacoste appointed Louise Trotter creative director, Vogue reported. Trotter, who was most recently at U.K. fashion chain Joseph, is the first woman to hold the position at Lacoste in 85 years.

* Marco Bizzarri, CEO of Kering SA-owned Gucci, reassured store personnel that the company "is stronger than ever," addressing concerns over a slowdown in sales, Reuters reported, citing an internal video message. "We cannot keep on growing 50, 60 percent per month, it's impossible," Bizzarri reportedly said, adding that he is "very, very confident" in the business, which is still experiencing "exceptional" growth. Kering declined to comment on the matter, the report added.

* Cartier International SNC filed a lawsuit against Hudson's Bay Co.-owned Saks Inc. for allegedly driving footfall away from its Manhattan in-store boutique at 49th Street, Bloomberg News reported, citing New York state court filings. The Compagnie Financière Richemont SA unit, which is seeking $40 million in damages, reportedly said that Saks' remodeling of the first floor of its 5th Avenue store created dust and debris that reached Cartier's cases of display jewelry and watches. In addition, Cartier said the lease for its prime in-store location will expire October 2021 but Saks wants to have the lease terminated by Oct. 13, 2018, forcing Cartier to relocate. A spokeswoman for Hudson's Bay reportedly said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

* Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.'s flagship brand Uniqlo opened its largest Southeast Asian store in Makati, Philippines, Bloomberg News reported. Satoshi Hatase, CEO of Uniqlo Southeast Asia and Oceania, reportedly said the company expects young, English-speaking shoppers and the Philippines' growing tourism market to drive sales in its 4,100-square-meter store.

E-COMMERCE

* Zalando SE launched a beauty products range in Germany exclusively for men, offering 1,500 items across 25 brands, including House 99 by David Beckham. The company also plans to roll out the line in Austria and Poland with a full beauty assortment to follow before Christmas 2018.

* Amazon.com Inc. is partnering with São Paulo-based trucking startup CargoX Transportes on a pilot logistics project in Brazil that will use bulletproof trucks for the delivery of electronics and other high-value goods, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The source told Bloomberg that predictive data and other technology will be used to speed up the delivery process since heavy-duty trucks are slower and tend to reduce the pace of deliveries. Bloomberg said CargoX declined to comment, while Amazon told the news outlet that it does not comment on rumors or speculation.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* Pharmacy store chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. will buy a minority equity interest in New York-based beauty products retailer Birchbox Inc. Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed by the companies. Walgreens will also start selling Birchbox beauty products at some of its locations.

* The institutional investor that will buy Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme's 55 Monoprix real estate assets for €565 million was identified to be Generali Real Estate, a subsidiary of Italian insurer Generali, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The French supermarket chain, which announced the deal Oct. 1 but did not disclose the buyer, reportedly declined to comment.

* John Lewis Partnership PLC subsidiary Waitrose & Partners plans to launch in spring 2019 a service called While You're Away that allows delivery drivers to stock customers' kitchens with their purchases while they're not at home. Customers can grant a Waitrose delivery driver with temporary access to their home by using a mobile app to send a temporary code for the house's smart lock, provided by Assa Abloy's Yale. The retailer is expected to pilot the service with 100 customers close to its fulfillment center in Coulsdon, south London.

* Casino, Guichard-Perrachon SA denied Brazilian press reports that it has hired Rothschild & Co. SCA as financial adviser for the sale of its supermarket unit, Companhia Brasileira de Distribuição, Reuters reported. Rothschild reportedly also confirmed that it has not been hired by Casino to explore asset sales.

HYPERMARKETS AND SUPER CENTERS

* Wal-Mart de México SAB de CV's consolidated sales in September jumped 9% year over year to 48.22 billion Mexican pesos. The Mexican arm of U.S. retail giant Walmart Inc. said total sales in Mexico rose 8.4% year over year to 39.35 billion pesos, while total sales in Central America soared 12.1% year over year to 8.88 billion pesos for the month.

* Wesfarmers Ltd. shareholders are scheduled to vote Nov. 15 on a scheme of arrangement for the spinoff of its supermarket chain Coles, as ordered by the Supreme Court of Western Australia. The demerger also is expected to complete on November.

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The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng slipped 0.19% to 26,572.57, and the Nikkei 225 declined 0.80% to 23,783.72.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.49% to 7,382.69, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.31% to 1,044.33.

On the macro front

The employment situation report, the international trade report, the consumer credit report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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