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McDonald's faces sexual harassment suits; Kraft Heinz gets another Nasdaq notice

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McDonald's faces sexual harassment suits; Kraft Heinz gets another Nasdaq notice

TOP NEWS

* McDonald's Corp. is facing a new wave of complaints regarding on-the-job sexual harassment, The New York Times reported. Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, American Civil Liberties Union and labor group Fight for $15 reportedly filed 23 additional complaints, claiming that the fast-food giant did not adequately respond to female employees' complaints. Of the 23 new complaints, 20 were sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and three were filed as civil rights lawsuits, along with two suits emerging from previous allegations, the report said. McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a letter that the company had improved and clarified its sexual harassment policy and will be rolling out training for front-line employees and a complaint hotline.

* The Kraft Heinz Co. said it received another notice of noncompliance from Nasdaq for its failure to file its report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 30. The Pittsburgh-based processed foods producer previously received a noncompliance notice in March for failing to timely file its Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 29, 2018. The notices are not expected to immediately impact the listing or trading of Kraft Heinz's common stock on Nasdaq Global Select Market, the company clarified.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Loop, a circular e-commerce platform that aims to reduce single-use plastics and that has signed up companies including The Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever PLC, Nestlé SA and Colgate-Palmolive Co., officially launched its pilot project in the U.S. Loop, which was developed by recycling company TerraCycle US Inc., said it launched its pilot program in the mid-Atlantic region of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C., with founding partners including retailers The Kroger Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., as well as consumer goods producers PepsiCo Inc., The Clorox Co., Natura Cosméticos SA's The Body Shop International Ltd., SC Johnson & Son Inc. and more. The program was already launched in Paris in partnership with Carrefour SA and in the U.K. through a deal with Tesco PLC. Loop also plans to roll out the service in Canada, Germany and Japan soon.

* Shares of Target Corp. rose 8.4% in premarket trading in New York after the company reported that adjusted EPS for the first quarter ended May 4 grew 15.9% to $1.53 from $1.32 in the year-earlier quarter, beating the mean consensus estimate for normalized EPS of $1.43 according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Net earnings for the first quarter climbed 10.8% to $795 million from $718 million in the year-earlier quarter. Total revenue grew 5% to $17.63 billion from $16.78 billion in the year-earlier quarter, reflecting sales growth of 5.1%. For the second quarter of fiscal 2019, Targets forecasts adjusted EPS between $1.52 and $1.72 and comparable sales growth in the low to mid-single digit range. The retailer reaffirmed its guidance for full-year 2019. It continues to expect adjusted EPS of $5.75 to $6.05, low to mid-single digit growth in comparable sales and mid-single digit growth in operating income.

* A key shareholder of Metro AG, EPH Group, said the German wholesaler's contract with Redos Group for the sale of its Real hypermarket chain is unfavorable and undervaluing the business, Reuters reported, citing a source close to the matter. EPH declined to comment to the newswire.

* Albertsons Cos. Inc. is introducing 300 new products under its Signature Select brand, along with redesigned packaging and trademark tag. Among the new products under Signature Select sub-brands are two ice cream flavors, a citrus and herb spatchcock chicken, new flavors for its sparkling water Soleil, and mixers, snack boxes and nourish bowls.

BEVERAGES

* PepsiCo Inc. entered a partnership with seafood restaurant chain operator Captain D's, becoming the exclusive beverage provider for all 580 of Captain D's and its subsidiary Grandy's Restaurant locations, across 27 states in the South and Midwest. Beverages on offer would include Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, Sierra Mist, Tropicana Lemonade and Tropicana Fruit Punch. Captain D's and PepsiCo will also explore opportunities in brand and culinary collaborations to offer new dining experiences to customers.

* Chinese maker of wine and liquor Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd. former Chairman Yuan Renguo was prosecuted by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection for accepting "exceptionally large" bribes and running illegal for-profit business, Reuters reported, citing a commission statement. Renguo has also been removed from all his posts and expelled from the ruling Communist Party, the report added.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Norwegian salmon producer SalMar ASA reported diluted EPS of 6.37 Norwegian kroner for 2019 first quarter ended March 31, up from 6.33 kroner in the corresponding quarter of 2018. However, it missed the S&P Global Market Intelligence normalized EPS estimate of 6.49 kroner, with five analysts reporting. The company's operational EBIT rose 13.9% year over year to 806.2 million Norwegian kroner from 708.1 million kroner. Operating revenue rose to 2.97 billion kroner from 2.53 billion kroner in the year-ago quarter. During the period, the company harvested 35,500 tonnes of farmed salmon, up from 31,900 tonnes in the year-ago period. It maintained its 2019 outlook to harvest 155,000 tonnes of salmon.

* Illinois-based Hearthside Food Solutions issued a voluntary recall of 1,038 sandwiches due to mislabeling of undeclared eggs, an allergen. The sandwiches, sold at 7-Eleven Inc. stores under the "The Italian Job" range, were distributed across 362 stores in Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. The affected products bear the sell-by date of "0523." The company said it did not receive any consumer complaints and is urging those who have purchased the affected sandwiches to dispose of them or return them for a full refund.

TOBACCO & SMOKING PRODUCTS

* Philip Morris International Inc. created four new positions to accelerate its business growth and efforts toward a smoke-free future. The tobacco giant has named current science and innovation President Mirek Zielinski as its chief new ventures officer, Stefano Volpetti as chief consumer officer and John O'Mullane as chief life sciences officer. The position of chief product officer has been filled by an experienced expert from the electronics industry with an announcement coming in the next few weeks, the company said. The new appointees will report to CEO André Calantzopoulos.

RESTAURANTS

* U.K.-based Pret A Manger Ltd., a JAB Holding Co. Sàrl unit, has agreed to acquire EAT, a drink and food retailer. The restaurant chain plans to convert "as many of EAT's shops as possible" into Veggie Prets to expand its brand to cater to the rising consumer demand for vegetarian and vegan options. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* Coca-Cola Co.-owned coffee chain Costa Ltd. said it is recalling 290-gram packages of Costa Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad over allergy concerns due to undeclared fish, milk and mustard. The packs bear the use-by date of May 22. No other Costa products were affected. The company is advising consumers to not eat the affected product and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Bayer AG-owned Monsanto Co. has been accused by Competition Commission of India for charging unreasonably high royalty fees for its genetically modified technology for cotton seeds per a 2016 investigation, Reuters reported, citing three sources with knowledge of the matter. The watchdog can impose a penalty of up to 10% of the company's relevant turnover in the past three financial years if it agrees with the report's findings. Quoting the probe results, sources told the newswire that Monsanto, via its joint venture Mahyco Monsanto Biotech, abused its dominant position in Indian market to disrupt competition and set "trait fees" to obtain maximum profits from customers. Monsanto and the antitrust body did not respond to request for comment to Reuters.

* Antitrust inspectors from the European Commission raided premises of Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme and Intermarché SAS due to suspected violation of the European Union rules on prohibition of cartels and restrictive business practices, Reuters reported, citing a commission statement. Casino had reportedly said its Paris headquarters were visited by the agents, while a raid on Intermarche headquarters was reported by a French daily Le Figaro, the report added. The commission also reportedly said the raids do not indicate that the companies are guilty or any outcome of the investigation itself.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng gained 0.18% to 27,705.94, while the Nikkei 225 ticked 0.05% higher to 21,283.37.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 rose 0.43% to 7,359.80, and the Euronext 100 increased 0.10% to 1,050.06.

On the macro front

The U.S. Energy Information Administration Petroleum Status Report and the Federal Open Market Committee minutes 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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