* Nike Inc. reported revenue gains and gross margin expansion during its fiscal third quarter of 2019 that drove the footwear and apparel company's diluted EPS and net income above analysts' estimates for the period. The Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike posted diluted EPS of 68 cents for the three months ended Feb. 28, compared to a loss of 57 cents per share in the year-ago period driven by what the company said was increased tax expense. Diluted EPS for the quarter beat the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus analyst estimate for GAAP EPS of 64 cents. Nike shares fell 3.3% in after-hours trading March 21 to $85.13 per share. The company reported earnings after U.S. markets closed.
* Jeans-maker Levi Strauss & Co.'s shares surged 33.24% to $22.65 in its March 21 trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange after opening at $22.22. The San Francisco-based company priced its IPO of 36,666,667 class A common shares at $17 apiece, valuing Levi Strauss at about $6.61 billion and yielding about $623.3 million for the iconic denim company.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* Paul Surridge has left or is close to leaving his position as Roberto Cavalli SpA's creative director, Women's Wear Daily reported, citing a well-informed source in London. The British designer's decision was triggered by the lack of investment in developing and refurbishing the brand's store network, marketing and communications. The company had no comment on the rumors, the report said.
* Amazon.com Inc. plans to offer video advertising space on its smartphone shopping app later in 2019, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The short video ads will appear in response to search results on the app, presenting valuable space for advertisers because people looking for products are said to have higher tendencies to buy than those browsing through social media sites, the newswire said. According to the report, the Seattle-based company has been carrying out tests of the ad feature on Apple Inc.'s iOS platform for several months and will run similar tests for Google LLC's Android platform later this year. Amazon and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* Pinterest Inc., known for its tool that helps users discover ideas for various projects and interests on the internet, tapped Jeremy King as head of engineering. The news comes a few days after King left his senior vice president and chief technology officer role at Walmart Inc.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* U.S.-based personal and beauty products company e.l.f. Beauty Inc. appointed Mandy Fields as senior vice president and CFO, effective April 22, replacing president and CFO John Bailey, who will step down from his role on March 31. Prior to joining e.l.f. Beauty, Fields was CFO for alcoholic beverage retailer BevMo!. In January, activist investor Marathon Partners Equity Management renewed its push for the beauty products manufacturer to cut costs, improve leadership personnel, change executive compensation split the roles of chairman and CEO in order to increase shareholder value.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* Rite Aid Corp.'s shareholders approved a reverse stock split of its ordinary shares at a special meeting on March 21, a move that would reduce the company's outstanding shares and increase its price. The drug retailer's board may select a stock split ratio of 1-for-10, 1-for-15 or 1-for-20, and will decide when the move will take effect. The objective of the reverse stock split is for Rite Aid to regain compliance with the New York Stock Exchange share price listing rules. The company is required to have a share price of at least $1 at the last trading day of any month by July 3 and maintain an average closing share price of at least $1 over the preceding 30 consecutive trading days.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* Tiffany & Co.'s full-year 2018 diluted EPS of $4.75 was higher than a year ago's $2.96 figure and the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus GAAP EPS estimate of $4.68, and came in towards the higher end of its guidance range of $4.65 to $4.80. The company's 2018 earnings experienced a $0.13 per diluted share benefit from a lower effective income tax rate, compared with a $1.17 per diluted share net charge in fourth-quarter 2017 from the enactment of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Global net sales rose 7% year over year, or 6% in constant exchange rates, to $4.4 billion. The jeweler also maintained its fiscal 2019 outlook of a mid-single-digit percentage rise year over year in net diluted EPS and low-single-digit percentage growth in worldwide net sales.
* Computer and electronics retailer GameStop Corp. appointed George Sherman CEO and a member of the board of directors, effective April 15. Sherman succeeds Shane Kim, who replaced executive chairman Dan DeMatteo as interim CEO after Michael Mauler resigned from GameStop following a three-month stint.
HOTELS, RESORTS AND CRUISE LINES
* U.K.-based travel services provider Thomas Cook Group PLC is closing 21 of its 566 stores across the country as part of an ongoing program that aims to adapt to changing consumer behavior and switch its business online. The move would see the removal of 102 jobs at the company, with another 218 store-based employees proposed to be laid off following a review of its entire retail staff. "These measures will help us to drive greater efficiencies across Thomas Cook so that we relentlessly focus our resources in those areas that give us the greatest opportunity, " said Will Waggott, chief of tour operating at Thomas Cook.
* Australian education services provider Navitas Ltd. agreed on terms for a binding cash takeover offer from a BGH Capital-led consortium, under which the BGH BidCo A Pty. Ltd. entity will acquire 100% of the company's share capital by way of a scheme arrangement. Navitas accepted the buyout offer after rejecting the private equity firm-led consortium's two earlier bids in 2018.
* Retail sales in the U.K. rose unexpectedly in February on a monthly basis, as a 1.2% decline in food stores sales was offset by growth in all the other main sectors. Sales volume grew by 0.4% month over month in February, following a downwardly revised increase of 0.9% in January, the Office for National Statistics said. The Econoday consensus forecast sales would slip 0.3% in February. Online sales as a proportion of total retail sales slipped to 17.6% in February from 18.8% in January.
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The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, theHang Seng rose 0.14% to 29,113.36, while the Nikkei 225 gained 0.09% to 21,627.34.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.83% to 7,294.13, and the Euronext 100 decreased 0.99% to 1,037.66.
On the macro front
The PMI Composite FLASH, the Existing Home Sales report, the Wholesale Trade report, the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report and the Treasury Budget 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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