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Amazon developing emotion-tracking wristband; Ross Stores Q1 EPS beats Street


* Inc. is working on a wearable device that can read human emotions, Bloomberg News reported, citing internal documents and a person familiar with the program. The U.S. e-commerce giant is reportedly developing a wrist-worn gadget, described as a health and wellness device, in partnership with Amazon Lab126, its hardware development unit that created the Amazon Fire phone, the Echo smart speaker and the Alexa voice software. A person familiar with the program reportedly told Bloomberg that the new project, codenamed Dylan, would be able to work with a smartphone app. The device has microphones paired with software that can detect users' emotional state from the sound of their voice, the source reportedly said. Bloomberg said Amazon declined to comment on the matter.

* Ross Stores Inc. raised its outlook for fiscal 2019 and reported first-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations. The California-based off-price retailer now expects EPS for the full year ending Feb. 1, 2020, to come in between $4.38 and $4.52, up from the previous range of $4.30 to $4.50. The company reported that diluted EPS for the quarter ended May 4 rose to $1.15 from $1.11 in the year-earlier quarter, beating the mean consensus estimate for normalized EPS of $1.12, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.


* Industria de Diseño Textil SA, which owns Zara clothing brand, plans to appoint its COO, Carlos Crespo, as the company's CEO, effective upon the board's approval during its annual meeting in July. Carlos Crespo will replace Pablo Isla, who holds the joint role of CEO and executive chairman. Isla will stay on as the chairman, and Crespo will report to him.

* Swatch Group Ltd. plans to build a drive-thru store for products under its namesake label, Bloomberg News reported, citing CEO Nick Hayek during the company's annual general meeting. Hayek reportedly said Swatch will establish the shop in the coming weeks beside its headquarters in Biel, Switzerland. It will package the items in burger boxes and brown paper bags, similar to fast-food chains.

* Kering SA is building two new warehouses, one each in Italy and New Jersey, "to improve the efficiency of its logistics network," Women's Wear Daily reported, citing a company statement. The new facility in Trecate, near the northern Italian town of Novara, will span 1.72 million square feet and is expected to be completed by 2022. The move reportedly will impact about half of the company's 800 employees, who will need to relocate to the new complex from the current one in Cadempino. The site in New Jersey will be "a larger and more modern building," the report said.


* U.S. supermarket chain Target Corp. is holding discussions to acquire WPP PLC's Triad Retail Media in a bid to bolster its digital advertising business, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Triad specializes in selling ad spaces on retail websites and other digital platforms, as well as the creation of digital ad campaigns. Target and WPP did not immediately respond to requests for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.


* Meituan Dianping reported wider adjusted net losses for the first quarter of 2019, marking the company's third consecutive quarterly loss since going public in 2018. For the three months to March 31, the e-commerce and service-booking company posted an adjusted net loss of 1.04 billion yuan, better than the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus estimate for an adjusted net loss of 2.06 billion yuan, with four analysts reporting. Revenue jumped 70.1% year over year to 19.17 billion yuan from 11.28 billion yuan a year ago.


* Rallye SA, the parent company of French supermarket operator Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme, entered bankruptcy protection on May 23 in order to improve its debt profile in a stable environment. Rallye said the companies under safeguard proceedings include its Cobivia and HMB subsidiaries, as well as their parent firms Foncière Euris, Finatis and Euris. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the total net financial debt of these companies stands at €3.2 billion. Meanwhile, Casino said in a statement the same day that these procedures do not relate to the Casino group or its operations and employees, adding that this does not affect the ongoing execution of its strategic plan.


* BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. reaffirmed its guidance for fiscal 2019 after posting first-quarter earnings that came in above estimates. For the three months ended May 4, the warehouse club operator reported adjusted EPS of 26 cents, up 30% year over year from 20 cents a year earlier and higher than the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate of 25 cents. Total revenue for the quarter increased 2.7% to $3.14 billion from $3.06 billion in the first quarter of 2018. The company said it continues to expect full-year net income to come in the range of $200 million to $212 million, or EPS of $1.42 to $1.50, and net sales of $12.9 billion to $13.2 billion.


* Japanese electronics companies Sharp Corp. and Kyocera Corp. are considering moving production units out of China due to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Sharp is set to move all production of U.S.-bound high-end multifunction printers to Thailand in phases, beginning in the latter part of 2019, if the proposed fourth round of tariffs is imposed on goods made in China. Meanwhile, Kyocera is planning to shift production of U.S.-bound copiers to Vietnam and will make a decision after evaluating the impact of the trade war on its business.

* U.S. housewares and specialties retailer Tupperware Brands Corp. appointed Patricia Stitzel as chairman of the board, effective May 22, replacing Rick Goings, who will continue to serve as a member of the company's board. Stitzel has also been serving as the company's CEO since May 2018.


* Thomas Cook Group PLC received an unsolicited indicative buyout offer from private equity firm Triton for the London-based travel operator's Northern Europe unit, confirming media speculation. The target unit consists of the company's tour business and airline in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Thomas Cook said it is reviewing the preliminary offer, emphasizing that it is not guaranteed to reach a deal with the private equity firm.

* Chinese hotelier Huazhu Group Ltd. reported weak first quarter 2019 earnings despite recording a 14.2% year-over-year increase in revenue to 2.39 billion Chinese yuan. For the quarter ended March 31, the company's attributable net income declined to 222 million yuan, or adjusted diluted EPS of 76 fen, from 282 million yuan, or 96 fen per share, a year prior. The company also raised its target openings for the year to 1,100 to 1,200 hotels from 800 to 900 hotels, with closure of 200 to 250 hotels.


* MGM Resorts International and financial services company ORIX Corp. are seeking up to 10 local partners to share the costs of their planned ¥1 trillion integrated resort project in Japan, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing a statement from MGM Resorts Japan CEO Ed Bowers. The Las Vegas-based hotel and casino operator has committed to giving the local companies who will participate in the Osaka project small equity stakes in the planned casino, with MGM and Orix holding significant ownership, according to the report. The newspaper said the development is expected to cost more than ¥1 trillion, with the consortium seeking to fund 50% to 60% of the total investment with debt.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng rose 0.32% to 27,353.93, while the Nikkei 225 was down 0.16% to 21,117.22.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.75% to 7,285.09, and the Euronext 100 increased 0.37% to 1,039.60.

On the macro front

The durable goods orders report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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