* Monster Beverage Corp. posted diluted EPS that beat analyst expectations for the second quarter, as the company's net sales came in higher than $1 billion for the first time. Monster reported diluted EPS of 48 cents for the three months ended June 30, just beating the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate for GAAP EPS of 47 cents. The company reported $1.02 billion in net sales, 12% higher than the $907.1 million in the same quarter of 2017. This is the first quarter that Monster has topped $1 billion in net sales, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* Rite Aid Corp. and Albertsons Cos. Inc. have mutually agreed to end their $24 billion merger deal. U.S. grocery chain Albertsons announced plans to merge with Rite Aid in February. Under the terms of the deal, neither Rite Aid nor Albertsons will be responsible for any payments to the other party as a result of the termination of the merger arrangement. Rite Aid said it is evaluating governance changes and will continue to engage with stockholders to ensure alignment between the company and its investors.
FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION
* Costco Wholesale Corp. net sales in July grew 10.1% to $10.59 billion from $9.62 billion in the same month a year ago. For the four-week period ended Aug. 5, comparable sales of the warehouse club operator rose 8.3% year over year, while e-commerce comparable sales were up 20.9%. Comparable sales in Canada also grew 3.2% and climbed 6.3% in other international markets.
* Walmart Inc. has cleared a major hurdle in its $16 billion deal for Indian e-commerce startup Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd. The Competition Commission of India has approved Walmart's proposed 77% stake acquisition of Flipkart, the regulator announced. The commission said it found little overlap between the businesses of Walmart's limited existing Indian operations and Flipkart.
* Germany's Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG will roll out new products by adding more fresh, organic, vegetarian and vegan items to its range across 1,800 stores in the U.S., Business Insider reported. In a bid to outperform its rivals Amazon.com Inc. and The Kroger Co., the grocer is spending $1.9 billion to revamp existing stores and another $3.4 billion to build 800 new stores over the next four years, the report added.
* Chinese online grocery delivery provider Dada-JD Daojia will receive a combined investment of $500 million from Walmart and JD.com Inc., Shanghai Securities News reported, citing a company announcement. Walmart said in a separate same-day statement that it is contributing $320 million to Dada-JD Daojia's latest financing round. The U.S. retail giant is also increasing its stake in the Chinese company to 10% and gaining a seat on the board. Dada-JD Daojia could not be reached for comment by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* The U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority banned advertisements by YUM! Brands Inc.-owned KFC and Kellogg Co. over complaints of targeting children with marketing campaigns, The Independent reported. KFC came under fire for placing an ad near a primary school, breaching the advertising rule related to the promotion of products high in fat, salt or sugar. Meanwhile, an advertisement for a Kellogg's product was shown between episodes of a children's program, the report added.
* New Zealand-based dairy cooperative Fonterra Co-op Group Ltd. and India's Future Consumer Ltd. entered a joint venture partnership to produce and distribute a range of dairy products in India. The initial phases of the joint venture will focus on product development and marketing, with the first products set to be launched by mid-2019. The products will use both locally sourced milk and dairy products from New Zealand, Fonterra said.
* A federal appeals court rejected an antitrust challenge filed by 23 beer drinkers over Anheuser-Busch Inbev SA/NV's $107 billion takeover in 2016 of SABMiller PLC, Reuters reported. The complainants reportedly claimed that the acquisition would thwart competition and raise beer prices in the U.S. A company spokeswoman declined to comment, the report added.
* Franchise bottler Coca-Cola HBC AG posted a 6.4% hike in the net sales for the first half of 2018. The company reported revenue of €3.23 billion, up from €3.03 billion in the year-ago period. Net profit grew 13.2% to €216.9 million from €191.6 reported for the comparable period of 2017. The basic EPS came in at 59 cents, up from 53 cents a year ago, marking a 12.2% increase.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng climbed 0.88% to 28,607.30, while the Nikkei 225 fell 0.20% to 22,598.39.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.72% to 7,721.01, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.31% to 1,074.53.
On the macro front
The jobless claims report, the PPI-FD report, the wholesale trade report, the EIA natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.
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