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Amazon, Flipkart face antitrust probe in India; Albertsons mulls IPO


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Amazon, Flipkart face antitrust probe in India; Albertsons mulls IPO


* India's competition regulator launched a probe to determine whether Inc. and Walmart Inc.'s Flipkart breached anitrust laws. The Competition Commission of India's investigation will focus on the impact of the companies' promotion of goods from "preferred sellers" on competition. In comments reported by The Wall Street Journal, spokesmen for Amazon and Flipkart each said their company was confident in its legal compliance.

* Albertsons Cos. Inc. is planning to launch an IPO that could value the grocer at $19 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The owner of Safeway and Jewel-Osco could arrive at a decision in the "coming weeks," the report said. Albertsons and its private equity owner Cerberus Capital Management did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's requests for comment.


* Athletic apparel retailer Lululemon Athletica Inc. raised its earnings and sales guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter, citing a strong holiday period. Diluted EPS for the fourth quarter ending Feb. 2 is now expected to be between $2.22 and $2.25, compared to the previous outlook of $2.10 to $2.13. Analysts expect GAAP EPS for the fourth quarter to come in at $2.16, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* American Eagle Outfitters Inc. reported that fourth-quarter comparable sales to date were flat year over year and reaffirmed its guidance for EPS in the range of 34 cents to 36 cents. CEO Jay Schottenstein attributed the performance to the strength of the Aerie brand and American Eagle's signature jeans collections. The company will report final results March 4.

* J.Jill Inc. revised upward its guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter ending Feb. 1 following better-than-expected sales and progress clearing excess inventory. The women's apparel brand now expects to post a loss of 10 cents to 12 cents per share compared with previous guidance for a loss of 14 cents to 16 cents.

* Casual-footwear maker Crocs Inc. raised its guidance for fourth-quarter sales to between $260 million and $262 million from its previous guidance range of $245 million to $255 million. "Our projected fourth-quarter results represent a strong finish to a record year and we anticipate building on our 2019 growth trajectory in 2020," said CEO Andrew Rees.

* Jeans-maker Levi Strauss & Co. said Marc Rosen, executive vice president and president of direct-to-consumer, will become executive vice president and president for Levi Strauss Americas. Rosen will succeed Roy Bagattini, who will depart Feb. 16.

* Topshop and Topman Buying Director Emma Fox and Merchandising Director Helen Wilson will step down later in 2020, the U.K.'s Retail Gazette reported. The stores are part of Arcadia Group Ltd.


* Hudson's Bay Co. appointed Iain Nairn president, effective Jan. 12. The appointment comes after the Canadian department store chain agreed to a take-private deal with a group of shareholders led by Executive Chairman Richard Baker.

* South African department store chain Woolworths Holdings Ltd. appointed Roy Bagattini as CEO and executive director, effective Feb. 17. Bagattini, who is the president of Levi Strauss' North American unit, will succeed Ian Moir.


* U.K. online retailer Boohoo Group PLC lifted its full-year sales outlook as it reported a 44% year-over-year increase in revenue to £473.7 million for the four-month period ending Dec. 31. The retailer said it now expects full-year revenue growth to be 40% to 42%, ahead of its previous guidance of 33% to 38%. "All of our brands have performed exceptionally well and delivered strong market share gains," CEO John Lyttle said. Separately, Boohoo named Brian Small deputy chairman, effective immediately.

* Online fashion retailer Revolve Group Inc. teamed up with Snap+Style Business, which offers personalization and curation for e-commerce sites, to drive sales growth and improve customer styling and service for S+SB's launch on Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform.


* CVS Health Corp. CEO Larry Merlo told CNBC that the company's plan to revamp more than 1,000 stores was on track and initial results were positive. CVS is rolling out its HealthHub concept to expand its services offering. In an interview on "Mad Money," Merlo said early results showed footfall had increased and margins were higher.


* U.S. consumer electronics retailer GameStop Corp. reported that sales for the nine-week holiday period decreased 27.5% year over year to $1.83 billion, while comparable sales fell 24.7%. The company expects fiscal 2019 comparable store sales to decline in the range of 19% to 21% and anticipates posting an adjusted net loss for the fiscal year. GameStop will report fourth-quarter results in late March.

* Bang & Olufsen A/S said fiscal second-quarter revenue plunged 31% year over year to 627 million Danish kroner, impacted by the transition to a demand-driven sales model and a reduction of retail inventory. The Danish maker of audio and video equipment, which will present a three-year strategy plan April 3, maintained the guidance that it presented Dec. 17 for a fiscal-year decline in revenue of 13% to 18% in local currencies.

* Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. will not renew the leases of about 15 of its stores in Hong Kong beginning in April, the jeweler said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News. The company has 86 stores in Hong Kong.


* Eldorado Resorts Inc. agreed to sell its Eldorado Resort and Casino in Shreveport, La., to Maverick Gaming LLC for $230 million in cash, subject to a working capital adjustment. The transaction is expected to close in 2020, subject to regulatory approvals, the prior or concurrent closing of Eldorado's proposed $17.3 billion merger with Caesars Entertainment Corp., and other customary closing conditions.

* India's Oyo Hotels and Homes is slashing hundreds of jobs in the country as the hotel chain seeks to cut costs, Reuters reported, citing a source and an email from CEO Ritesh Agarwal to employees. "Some roles at OYO will become redundant as we further drive tech-enabled synergy, enhanced efficiency and remove duplication of effort across businesses or geographies," Agarwal reportedly said. The internal memo did not disclose the number of layoffs. An Oyo representative did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.


* The U.K. will ban consumers from using credit cards to fund gambling from April 14, the Gambling Commission said in a statement. The regulator cited research that indicated 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.24% to 28,885.14, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.73% to 24,025.17.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.23% to 7,600.13, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.14% to 1,154.97.

On the macro front

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, CPI and the Redbook 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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