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Nordstrom ends buyout talks; Toymakers object to Toys R Us US liquidation plan

TOP NEWS

* U.S. department store operator Nordstrom Inc. said its special committee of directors terminated talks with members of the company's founding family about a potential takeover. The talks were called off after the committee failed to reach an agreement with the family on an "acceptable price for the company."

* Toymakers, including Barbie doll-maker Mattel Inc., Lego System A/S and at least a dozen others, filed objections with a Richmond, Va., bankruptcy court regarding Toys R Us Inc.'s U.S. liquidation plans. The latest filings came as Toys R Us is set to ask U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Keith Phillips to approve U.S. liquidation procedures, a measure that would include establishing a timeline for the auction of its 735 U.S. stores. Toys R Us owes vendors, including Mattel and Hasbro Inc., at least $450 million that might not ever be paid, The Wall Street Journal reported.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Hermès International SCA reported full-year 2017 net profit in line with expectations due to strong growth in all its geographies and product lines, and it proposed a €5.00 exceptional dividend on top of a final dividend of €4.10. The French fashion house said net profit for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2017, jumped 11% year over year to €1.22 billion from €1.10 billion a year ago. The S&P Capital IQ consensus estimate for net profit was also €1.22 billion.

* H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB launched its online flagship store on Tmall, the business-to-customer e-commerce platform of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The new store features more than 10,000 products from the group's key brands, H&M and H&M Home, covering menswear, womenswear, childrenswear and furniture. The Swedish fast-fashion brand originally announced the plan in December 2017.

* Italian luxury goods company Salvatore Ferragamo SpA was awarded $60 million after a New York court ruled against 60 unidentified holders of illegal online profiles that sold counterfeit products.

* Moss Bros Group PLC's shares fell 20% after the U.K. company that retails and rents formal wear for men issued a profit warning for the fiscal year ending Jan. 26, 2019. It said sales had suffered due to a shortage of stock following the consolidation of its supplier base. For the year ended Jan. 27, 2018, it proposed to trim its dividend to 4 pence a share from 5.89 pence a year earlier as the company plans to invest in growth.

E-COMMERCE

* Amazon.com Inc. plans to raise transportation fees for product suppliers and limit the sale of items that generate smaller margins, except for bulk orders, amid a price war with Walmart Inc. and other retailers, sources told Bloomberg. The e-commerce giant reportedly plans to offload costs of shipping beverages, diapers and other heavy products onto suppliers, while making it harder for shoppers to buy small orders of toothbrushes, soap, lipstick and other inexpensive items.

* German meal-kit retailer HelloFresh SE, owned by e-commerce company Rocket Internet SE, acquired rival Green Chef for an undisclosed amount in a move to compete with Blue Apron Inc. in the U.S.

* Expedia Inc.'s unit Orbitz identified a possible data breach that may have affected 880,000 payment cards, Reuters reported. Hackers reportedly may have gained access to information such as names, addresses and phone numbers of customers but not the social security numbers of U.S. customers, the news service said.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. posted a 1.9% year-over-year increase in adjusted diluted net earnings per share for the 16-week period ended Feb. 4 to 54 cents. However, the figure missed the mean consensus estimate for normalized EPS of 74 cents per share, according to S&P Capital IQ. During a call to discuss fiscal third-quarter earnings, CEO Brian Hannasch said the Canada-based convenience store operator boosted its synergy target to $215 million from $150 million for the three years following Couche-Tard's acquisition of CST Brands.

* Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.'s Walgreen Co. agreed to pay $5.5 million in penalties after allegedly overcharging workers for prescription drugs covered by the state workers' compensation insurance, according to a release from the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey. As part of the settlement, the drug retailer will have to implement procedures to check overcharges on opioids and other drugs under the workers' compensation system in the future.

HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS

* FedEx Office, a business unit of FedEx Corp., agreed to open 500 new FedEx shops inside Walmart Inc.'s stores nationwide within the next two years, offering packing, shipping and printing services. The initiative follows the successful pilot program that featured 47 FedEx Office stores placed in Walmart sites across six states.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Suning.com Co. Ltd. plans to speed up the rollout of its convenience store brand Suning Xiaodian in China as it explores further online and offline integration, the company said at a news conference. The Chinese retailer, formerly known as Suning Commerce Group Co. Ltd., plans to open at least 1,500 Suning Xiaodian stores in 2018 after launching the first in Shanghai in January, followed by 3,000 in 2019 and 5,000 in 2020. It aims to have stores in more than 240 cities by 2020.

* Ian Ashken, Domenico De Sole, Martin Franklin and James Lillie, nominees of activist investor Starboard Value LP, withdrew their nominations to Newell Brands Inc.'s board, following an agreement the retailer reached with investor Carl Icahn. The consumer and commercial products company, together with Icahn, who owns a 6.86% stake in Newell, elected Patrick Campbell as board chairman and appointed Brett Icahn, Andrew Langham and Courtney Mather to the board. However, according to a Reuters report, Franklin is considering acquiring some of the company's assets through an acquisition vehicle.

* Carpetright PLC, the U.K. seller of floor coverings and beds, said it secured a £12.5 million loan to fund working capital while it seeks to restructure its property portfolio. Meditor European Master Fund Ltd., which provided the loan, will receive shares equivalent to 5% of Carpetright's share capital as part of the deal.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.43% to 31,414.52, and the Nikkei 225 was down 0.47% to 21,380.97.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.37% to 7,034.84, and the Euronext 100 had fallen 0.01% to 1,024.89.

On the macro front

The MBA mortgage applications report, the current account report, the existing home sales report, the EIA petroleum status report, the FOMC meeting announcement and the FOMC Forecasts are due out March 21.

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