Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks

Physical retailers rise, online retailers drop after Supreme Court tax ruling

Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners
Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners

Shares of brick-and-mortar retailers are rising, while shares of e-commerce firms are slipping, after the Supreme Court ruled that online retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they have no physical presence.

SUPREME COURT RULING

On Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with the state of South Dakota in a fight it brought against Wayfair (W) to require a business that has no physical presence in the state to collect its sales tax.

Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners
Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 vote that a 1992 judgement in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota regarding the physical presence rule was “unsound and incorrect,” according to a judgement posted to the high court’s website.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in writing for the majority opinion, said the Quill decision had distorted the economy and resulted in states losing annual tax revenues between $8B-$33B.

“Quill puts both local businesses and many interstate businesses with physical presence at a competitive disadvantage relative to remote sellers,” he wrote.

“Remote sellers can avoid the regulatory burdens of tax collection and can offer de facto lower prices caused by the widespread failure of consumers to pay the tax on their own.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE:

Following the ruling, industry trade organization National Retail Federation issued a statement saying,

“Retailers have been waiting for this day for more than two decades. The retail industry is changing, and the Supreme Court has acted correctly in recognizing that it’s time for outdated sales tax policies to change as well.

This ruling clears the way for a fair and level playing field where all retailers compete under the same sales tax rules whether they sell merchandise online, in-store or both.”

ANALYST COMMENTARY

KeyBanc analyst Edward Yruma called the ruling a negative for Wayfair, arguing that it may reduce some of the price differential that has helped it gain share from traditional peers.

The ruling is also a negative, but to a lesser degree, for eBay (EBAY) and Etsy (ETSY), said Yruma, who views the impact on those two as more related to compliance and implementation.

He adds that the news could be a modest positive for retailers of high-ticket and branded products, such as Best Buy (BBY), Home Depot (HD), Lowe’s (LOW), La-Z-Boy (LZB), Kirkland’s (KIRK), RH (RH) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM).

PRICE ACTION

At Thursday midday, Target (TGT) rose 1.8%, Walmart (WMT) was up 0.7%, Costco (COST) rose roughly 1.1% while Amazon (AMZN) was down 0.4%, Etsy dropped about 2.5%, eBay fell 1.4% and Wayfair (W) was down 1.2%.

In addition, Avalara (AVLR), a software company focused on automated tax compliance that recently held its initial public offering, gained 17.1%.


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Rent-A-Center sold for $1.365 billion

Rent-A-Center to be acquired by Vintage Capital for $15 per share in cash

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Rent-A-Center sold for $1.365 billion

Rent-A-Center (RCII) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Vintage Rodeo Parent, LLC, an affiliate of Vintage Capital Management, LLC, pursuant to which Vintage will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Rent-A-Center common stock for $15.00 per share in cash.

The transaction, which is not subject to a financing condition, and is expected to close by the end of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions including the receipt of stockholder and regulatory approvals, represents a total consideration of approximately $1.365B, including net debt.

Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, Rent-A-Center stockholders will receive $15.00 in cash for each share of Rent-A-Center common stock, which represents a premium of approximately 49 percent over the Company’s closing stock price on October 30, 2017, immediately prior to the announcement that the Company’s Board of Directors initiated a process to evaluate strategic and financial alternatives focused on maximizing stockholder value.

The Rent-A-Center Board has unanimously approved the transaction and recommends that stockholders vote in favor of the transaction.

Upon completion of the transaction, Rent-A-Center will become a privately held company and its common shares will no longer be listed on any public market.

“The Rent-A-Center Board, having just completed a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives in consultation with outside legal and financial advisors, unanimously supports this transaction and is confident it maximizes value for stockholders while delivering a significant and immediate cash premium,” said Mitch Fadel, CEO of Rent-A-Center.

RCII closed at $12.03.


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Walmart to pay $16B for about 77% in India’s Flipkart

Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India’s Flipkart

Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India's Flipkart, Stockwinners
Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India’s Flipkart, Stockwinners

Walmart (WMT) announced it has signed definitive agreements to become the largest shareholder in Flipkart Group.

The investment will help accelerate Flipkart’s customer-focused mission to transform commerce in India through technology and underscores Walmart’s commitment to sustained job creation and investment in India, the company said.

Subject to regulatory approval in India, Walmart will pay approximately $16B for an initial stake of approximately 77% in Flipkart, formally Flipkart Private Limited.

The remainder of the business will be held by some of Flipkart’s existing shareholders, including Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Tencent Holdings (TCEHY), Tiger Global Management and Microsoft (MSFT).

While the immediate focus will be on serving customers and growing the business, Walmart supports Flipkart’s ambition to transition into a publicly-listed, majority-owned subsidiary in the future.

While Walmart and Flipkart will leverage the combined strengths of both companies, they will maintain distinct brands and operating structures.

Currently, Walmart India operates 21 Best Price cash-and-carry stores and one fulfillment center in 19 cities across nine states in India, with more than 95 percent of sourcing coming from India, aiding suppliers, creating skilled jobs and contributing to local economies across the country.

Krish Iyer, president and chief executive officer of Walmart India, will continue to lead that part of the business.


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Amazon higher on Prime members

Amazon rises as Prime reaches 100M paid members

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Amazon higher on Prime members

Amazon’s (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos told investors that the company has exceeded 100M paid members globally and has shipped more than 5B items with Prime worldwide.

The good news for the e-commerce giant may not end there, as Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak told investors that his analysis shows that Amazon has gained 1.5% of U.S. apparel market share in 2017 and may achieve number one U.S. apparel market share in 2018 as Prime members and Millennials shift spending to Amazon and away from traditional brick and mortar retailers.

100M PAID MEMBERS

According to a regulatory filing, Amazon said that it has exceeded 100M paid Prime members globally 13 years post-launch.

In 2017, Amazon shipped more than 5B items with Prime worldwide, and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year — both worldwide and in the U.S., the company said, adding that members in the U.S. now receive unlimited free two-day shipping on over 100M different items. The company expanded Prime to Mexico, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and introduced Business Prime Shipping in the U.S. and Germany.

Additionally, CEO Jeff Bezos informed shareholders that Amazon Music now has tens of millions of paid customers, with Amazon Music Unlimited expanding to more than 30 new countries in 2017.

GAINING APPAREL MARKET SHARE

In a research note to investors this morning, Morgan Stanley’s Nowak said his analysis shows that Amazon gained 1.5% of U.S. apparel market share in 2017, largely at the expense of department stores.

According to his work around Amazon’s apparel gross merchandise value, the analyst estimates the e-commerce giant continues to be the second largest U.S. apparel retailer, trailing only Walmart (WMT), as the company has grown to about 7.9% of the overall U.S. apparel market, excluding shoes, or $21.1B apparel gross merchandise value.

Further, #Nowak told investors he expects Amazon to achieve the number one spot in 2018, as Prime members and Millennials shift spending to Amazon and away from traditional brick and mortar retailers.

The analyst pointed out that Amazon’s 2017 share gains look to have come largely at the expense of department stores, estimating Sears (SHLD), Macy’s (M) and J.C. Penney (JCP) lost 0.8% share in 2017, with shareholding remaining roughly flat for Target (TGT) and Kohl’s (KSS).

L Brands (LB) lost share due to the elimination of its swimwear and apparel categories, he contended.

Additionally, his U.S. apparel market deep-dive indicated that Walmart and Costco (COST) showed “impressive gains” despite a weak industry backdrop. Among the Softline retailers, Gap’s (GPS) Old Navy, Ross Stores (ROSS) and Nordstrom’s (JWN) Nordstrom Rack also added 10-15 bps of market share in 2017, he added.

Nowak reiterated an Overweight rating and $1,550 price target on Amazon shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Thursday’s trading, shares of Amazon have gained 2% to $1,554.90.


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Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles after guidance

Raymond James  says sell Bed Bath & Beyond after guidance

Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles after guidance, Stockwinners
Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles after guidance,

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) are sliding after the company announced better than expected fourth quarter results but issued a weaker 2018 forecast.

Following the news, several Wall Street analysts cut their price targets on the stock, while Raymond James analyst Beryl Bugatch downgraded Bed Bath & Beyond to Underperform, a sell-equivalent rating.

RESULTS

Last night, Bed Bath & Beyond reported fourth quarter earnings per share of $1.48 and revenue of approximately $3.7B, both above consensus of $1.39 and $3.68B, respectively.

However, the company also said that it sees FY18 EPS in a low-to-mid $2 range, with consensus at $2.76.

Additionally, Bed Bath & Beyond outlined its “roadmap for continuing the evolution of its foundational structure” with the goals of: growing its comparable sales, which it expects to begin in fiscal 2018; moderating the declines in its operating profit and net earnings per diluted share, in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019; and growing its net earnings per diluted share by fiscal 2020.

SELL, SAYS RAYMOND JAMES

In a post-earnings note, Raymond James’ Bugatch downgraded Bed Bath & Beyond to Underperform from Market Perform.

The analyst noted that the company’s management announced multiple initiatives ranging from new store concepts to new organizational structures, to new investments in technology that will come at a cost, as underscored by management’s view for continuing operating profit declines in FY18 and FY19.

Despite the array of initiatives announced, a key issue for the analyst is that the fleet of over 1,000 legacy Bed Bath & Beyond stores continue to deliver in-store mid-single-digit comparable sales declines.

Bugatch argued that it is “Beyond” him that management did not cite a remodeling of its flagship store base that he finds “increasingly unattractive” due to being dated, cluttered and crowded.

Without some underlying growth in management generated earnings over the next two years, shareholder value is likely to erode further, he added. Nonetheless, Bugatch pointed out that at its current valuation, Bed Bath may attract activist interest.

TARGETS CUT

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley analyst Simeon Gutman lowered his price target for Bed Bath & Beyond to $16 from $20 as he is not convinced its revenue will respond to the company’s initiatives.

The analyst told investors that beyond a lift from the Babies R’ Us bankruptcy, it is hard for him to see how the company can drive positive same-store sales without the aid of promotions.

Gutman reiterated an Underweight rating on the shares.

His peer at JPMorgan also lowered his price target for Bed Bath & Beyond to $16 from $18.

Analyst Christopher Horvers noted that the company’s negative comparable sales in Q4 and over the past two quarters are “particularly disappointing” as is the acceleration in gross margin declines. The analyst also kept an Underweight rating on the shares.

Additionally, Wedbush analyst Seth Basham, Credit Suisse’s Seth Sigman, and Loop Capital’s Anthony Chukumba all lowered their price targets on the name to $18, $20 and $18, respectively, while reiterating neutral-equivalent ratings.

PRICE ACTION

In Thursday’s trading, shares of Bed Bath & Beyond dropped over 19% to $17.39.


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Finish Line sold for $558 million

Finish Line to be acquired by JD Sports Fashion for $13.50 per share 

Finish Line sold for $558 million

Finish Line (FINL) announced that it has entered into a merger agreement providing for JD Sports Fashion to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding Finish Line shares at a price of $13.50 per share in cash representing an aggregate deal value of approximately $558M.

JD is the leading European retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands.

The terms of the merger represent a premium of 28 percent for Finish Line shareholders compared to the closing price of Finish Line’s shares of $10.55 as of March 23, 2018.

This provides an excellent strategic fit for Finish Line and JD.

Finish Line moves into a stronger position to compete as part of a global enterprise that leads in the industry.

JD gains a significant physical and online retail presence with direct access in the US which they have long identified as a highly attractive growth opportunity.

Finish Line and JD together create a leading global, premium, multichannel retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands who embraces the latest online and in-store digital technology. Upon closing of the agreement, the Finish Line executive team will continue their involvement with the business.

The expected timeline to close on this agreement is no earlier than June 2018.

FINL closed at $10.55.


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Barron’s is bullish on Facebook, La-Z-Boy

Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue mentions several names:

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Stockwinners offers Barron’s review of stocks to buy

BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Barron’s lists potential takeover targets in cloud software – Shares of young cloud software companies like MongoDB (MDB) and SendGrid (SEND) have soared since the Nasdaq’s bottom on February 8, in part on speculation of a takeover, Barron’s Tiernan Ray contends. Takeover targets form a long list in addition to the aforementioned, and include Friday’s initial public offering Dropbox (DBX), Appian (APPN), Veeva Systems (VEEV), Atlassian (TEAM) and ServiceNow (NOW), Ray writes.

La-Z-Boy shares could rally 20% within a year or two – La-Z-Boy (LZB) shares currently trade at 13.8 times forecast earnings for the next 12 months, which is well below the small-cap Russell 2000 Index’s price/earnings ratio of 25, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s 17, and its own five-year average of 16.3 times forward earnings, writes Barron’s Brett Arend. He believes the stock, which closed Friday at $28.75, could merit a valuation of $36 per share, or roughly 20% higher, within a year or two “by simply getting back to its average five-year multiple.” Higher consumer spending, a new relationship to sell on Amazon.com (AMZN), and successful efforts to reach millennials could propel the shares even higher, Arend contends.

Time Warner shares look appealing with antitrust trial under way – Time Warner (TWX) investors face a “win-win” scenario with the antitrust trial for AT&T’s (T) proposed takeover now under way in Washington, Andrew Bary of Barron’s writes. Time Warner shares “look appealing, based on their underlying value and AT&T’s strong chances of winning,” Bary contends. He notes the stock closed Friday roughly $11 below the current value of AT&T’s cash and stock bid, worth $103.60 per share. The 12% deal spread is appealing with “many observers” believing AT&T and Time Warner will prevail over the U.S. government, according to Bary. He adds that while Time Warner shares could fall $5 if the government wins, some analysts think the stock will quickly recover to its current price of $92.57.

Interactive Brokers tops Barron’s list of best online brokers – Interactive Brokers (IBKR) sits atop Barron’s 23rd annual ranking of The Best Online Brokers. Interactive scored highly in trading experience, range of offerings, and portfolio analysis, Theresa Carey writes in a feature story for this weekend’s magazine. Interactive Brokers is followed by Fidelity, TD Ameritrade (AMTD), Charles Schwab (SCHW), TradeStation, Merrill Edge (BAC), E-Trade (ETFC) and tastyworks in Barron’s annual ranking.

Facebook may now be more tempting to investors – In its cover story titled “Facebook Comes Under Siege,” Barron’s says Facebook  (FB) shares may be more tempting to investors following last week’s 14% decline. With more than 2B users, however, Facebook is “almost certain” to not walk away unscathed as the top target for privacy concerns, Jon Swartz writes. Nonetheless, with nearly $42B in cash and investments, Facebook has the flexibility to diversify into other business lines, as it did with Instagram and WhatsApp, Swartz adds.


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Barron’s is bullish on Allergan and Gaps

Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue mentions several names:

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Barron’s is bullish on Gaps

BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Allergan shares could rise 20% or more– New competition to Allergan’s top product, Botox, and the loss of patent exclusivity for its second biggest, the dry-eye treatment Restasis, have left investors with “worry lines,” Vito Racanelli writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

However, Racanelli says concerns are way overdone as the company’s pipeline of new drugs should eventually replace the lost revenue from products going off patent. The shares could rise 20% or more, to $200-$225 by the end of 2019, Barron’s adds.

Old Navy may lift Gap (GPS) by 25% – Old Navy is enjoying fast sales growth and plump profit margins but is trapped inside a Gap, a name that has been an investor turnoff, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

Old Navy contributes close to half of company sales and within two years could generate three-quarters of profits, and yet Gap shares trade at just 12 times projected earnings for the next four quarters, which is one sign Gap could have plenty of upside left – perhaps 25% or more over the coming year, he adds. GPS closed at $31.74.

CAUTIOUS MENTIONS:

Broadcom Plan B looks complicated – After Broadcom’s (AVGO) bid for Qualcomm (QCOM) ended last week after President Trump blocked it on grounds of national security, the Wall Street now wants to know what the former will try to buy as plan B, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. The two most heavily speculated-about targets are Xilinx (XLNX) and Micron Technology (MU), he notes, adding that several others are conceivable, including Microchip Technology (MCHP), Marvell Technology Group (MRVL), Maxim Integrated Products (MXIM), and Analog Devices (ADI). However, with nearly $18B in 2017 revenue, Broadcom is big enough to make finding targets that matter challenging, he contends.

Goldman Sachs’ next CEO will have to fix trading– In a follow-up story, Barron’s notes that Goldman Sachs (GS) was once known for its trading prowess but has recently humbled by a trading slump. The bank has created something of a hedge with its apparent choice of successor, David Solomon, a lender and investment banker but not a trader, the report says. If a long-awaited trading rebound materializes in the quarters ahead, CEO Lloyd Blankfein can hand over the keys with a grin, but if not, the Solomon era could see Goldman reduce exposure to trading, Barron’s points out.


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Macy’s rises on strong earnings

Macy’s rises as turnaround plan fuels better-than-expected earnings

Macy's rises as turnaround plan fuels better-than-expected earnings. Stockwinners.com
Macy’s rises as turnaround plan fuels better-than-expected earnings. Stockwinners.com

Shares of Macy’s (M) rallied after the company reported better-than-expected earnings, including a surprise increase in same-store sales, and offered 2018 guidance.

EARNINGS AND GUIDANCE

Macy’s reported fourth quarter adjusted earnings per share of $2.82, beating analysts’ estimates of $2.71, on revenue of $8.67B, essentially in line with the $8.68B consensus but up 1.8% from the year-ago period.

Comparable sales on an owned basis were up 1.3% and up 1.4% on an owned plus licensed basis. Macy’s also offered guidance for 2018, including EPS of $3.55-$3.75, excluding anticipated settlement charges related to the company’s defined benefit plans, which compares to analyst estimates of $3.66. The retailer sees comp sales on both an owned and an owned plus licensed basis flat to up 1% and expects total sales to decline 0.5% to 2%.

EXECUTIVE COMMENTARY

In a statement, Chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette said, “We are committed to returning Macy’s to comparable sales growth in 2018 and will build on the momentum we created in the fourth quarter of 2017… We head into 2018 with an improved base business, healthy inventories, a focused and engaged organization and a clear path to return Macy’s to growth.”

On the company’s quarterly earnings call, CFO Karen Houget said Macy’s expects stronger sales in the second half of 2018 than the first half and that first half owned plus licensed comp sales are expected to be “approximately flat to slightly down.”

UPDATE ON BROOKFIELD ALLIANCE

Macy’s this morning also provided an update on its agreement with Brookfield Asset Management (BAM), noting that it recently agreed to sell seven floors of its State Street store in Chicago to a private real estate fund sponsored by Brookfield.

As part of the transaction, Macy’s will receive a total of $30M as well as upside participation in the ultimate value creation associated with the conversion of the upper floors to office space. The company anticipates closing this transaction in the first half of fiscal 2018.

The company is also exploring opportunities to sell the approximately 240,000 gross square footI. Magnin portion of the main Union Square building in San Francisco.

The companies have also agreed to certain terms on nine assets, which Brookfield will redevelop once it has received approval. Macy’s said it hopes to reach a deal on the nine assets in 2019. Macy’s said it “continues to opportunistically evaluate its real estate portfolio to identify opportunities where the redevelopment value of its real estate exceeds that of non-strategic operating locations.”

PEERS

Macy’s and other mall-based retailers and department stores have been hurt by the increasing popularity of fast-fashion retailers like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M, as well as an increase in online shopping on sites such as Amazon (AMZN).

Additionally, in January, Macy’s reported that its comparable sales on an owned basis increased 1% in the months of November and December 2017 combined, which lagged rivals J.C. Penney (JCP) and Kohl’s (KSS). J.C. Penney posted same-store sales growth of 3.4% during the November-December holiday period, while Kohl’s reported that total and comparable sales were up 6.9% for the period over the last year. Kohl’s , J.C. Penney, and Nordstrom (JWN) are expected to report later this week.

PRICE ACTION

Shares of Macy’s are off earlier highs and are now up about 4% to $28.51 in Tuesday’s trading.

OTHERS TO WATCH

J.C. Penney is up 2.3%, Nordstrom is down about 2% and Kohl’s is down 1.5%.


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Fogo De Chao sold for $560 million

Fogo De Chao to be acquired by Rhone for $15.75 per share in cash

Fogo De Chao to be acquired by Rhone for $15.75 per share in cash. Stockwinners.com
Fogo De Chao to be acquired by Rhone for $15.75 per share in cash.

Fogo de Chao (FOGO) announced an agreement to be acquired by investment entities affiliated with Rhone Capital.

Under the terms of the agreement, Rhone will acquire the Company in an all cash transaction valued at $560M.

The Company’s stockholders will receive $15.75 per share, representing a 25.5% premium to the closing share price of the Company’s shares on February 16, 2018.

The transaction is the result of a comprehensive strategic alternatives review process taken by the Company’s Board of Directors.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by Fogo’s Board of Directors. Funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. and certain of Fogo’s directors and executive officers, which collectively hold more than 60 percent of Fogo’s shares, have approved the transaction by written consent.

The acquisition is expected to be completed during the second calendar quarter of 2018, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.


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Albertsons and Rite Aid to merge

Rite Aid CEO to become CEO of combined Rite Aid, Albertsons

Albertsons and Rite Aid to merge

Albertsons Companies and Rite Aid Corporation (RAD) announced a definitive merger agreement under which privately held Albertsons Companies will merge with publicly traded Rite Aid.

Under the terms of the agreement, in exchange for every 10 shares of Rite Aid common stock, Rite Aid shareholders will have the right to elect to receive either (i) one share of Albertsons Companies common stock plus approximately $1.83 in cash or (ii) 1.079 shares of Albertsons Companies stock.

Depending upon the results of cash elections, upon closing of the merger, shareholders of Rite Aid will own a 28.0 percent to 29.6 percent stake in the combined company, and current Albertsons Companies shareholders will own a 70.4 percent to 72.0 percent stake in the combined company on a fully diluted basis.

Immediately following completion of the merger and assuming that all Rite Aid shareholders elect to receive shares plus cash, Albertsons Companies will have approximately 392.9 million shares outstanding on a pro forma and fully diluted basis.

Following the close of the transaction and the share exchange, Albertsons Companies’ shares are expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Albertsons Companies is backed by an investment consortium led by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., which also includes Kimco Realty Corporation (KIM), Klaff Realty LP, Lubert-Adler Partners LP, and Schottenstein Stores Corporation.

Current Rite Aid Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Standley will become CEO of the combined company, with current Albertsons Companies Chairman and CEO Bob Miller serving as Chairman.

The combined company is expected to be comprised of leadership from both companies and will be dual headquartered in Boise, Idaho, and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

The name of the combined company will be determined by transaction close.

The integrated company will operate approximately 4,900 locations, 4,350 pharmacy counters, and 320 clinics across 38 states and Washington, D.C., serving 40+ million customers per week.

Most Albertsons Companies pharmacies will be rebranded as Rite Aid, and the company will continue to operate Rite Aid stand-alone pharmacies.

The combined company expects to deliver annual run-rate cost synergies of $375 million in approximately three years and access potential annual revenue opportunities of $3.6 billion.

Over 60 percent of the cost synergies are expected to be realized within the first two years post-close. Identified revenue opportunities primarily include partnering with payors, including Rite Aid’s PBM, EnvisionRx, through preferred networks to drive additional high-value customers, connecting Rite Aid’s reliable pharmacy customer base to Albertsons Companies through loyalty programs and targeted marketing, leveraging Albertsons Companies’ grocery capabilities and Rite Aid’s pharmacy expertise to enhance the customer offering, and driving traffic through the omni-channel experience.

Cost synergies will be achieved primarily through procurement savings, leveraging efficiencies realized by a combined supply chain, combined distribution and fulfillment channels, and leveraging manufacturing capabilities.

The board of directors will be comprised of nine directors, four of whom will be named by Albertsons Companies, four of whom will be named by Rite Aid (including John Standley), and one of whom will be a jointly selected director. A majority of the Board will be independent. Lenard Tessler will serve as Lead Director.

Kimco Realty Corp (KIM) confirms its participation as an investor in connection with today’s announced execution of a definitive agreement under which Albertsons Companies will acquire all outstanding shares of Rite Aid Corporation (RAD).

RAD closed at $2.13. It last traded at $2.68.


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Kroger sells convenience store business for $2.15B

Kroger to sell convenience store business unit to EG Group for $2.15B

Kroger to sell convenience store business unit for $2.15B. Stockwinners.com
Kroger to sell convenience store business unit for $2.15B 

Kroger (KR) and EG Group, a privately-held petrol forecourt convenience store retailer based in Blackburn, Lancashire, United Kingdom, announced a definitive agreement for the sale of Kroger’s convenience store business unit to EG Group for $2.15B.

Kroger’s convenience store business generated revenue of $4B, including selling 1.2 billion gallons of fuel, in 2016. Kroger’s supermarket fuel centers and its Turkey Hill Dairy are not included in the sale.

Kroger announced in October 2017 its intention to explore strategic alternatives for its convenience store business, including a potential sale, in conjunction with the “Restock Kroger” plan.

The company expects the transaction to close quickly as EG Group has no U.S. presence today. The companies expect to close the transaction during the first quarter of Kroger’s fiscal year.

As part of the agreement, EG Group will establish their North American headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio and continue to operate stores under their established banner names.

Kroger plans to use net proceeds from the sale to repurchase shares and to lower its net total debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio.


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Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles on competition

Bed Bath & Beyond sinks after analyst says sell with competition rising

Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles on competition. Stockwinners.com
Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles on competition

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) dropped in Friday morning trading after an analyst downgraded the stock to his firm’s equivalent of a Sell rating, citing concerns over the growth and margin outlook relative to peers.

ANALYST TURNS BEARISH

JPMorgan analyst Christopher #Horvers downgraded Bed Bath & Beyond to Underweight, his firm’s equivalent of a Sell rating, and cut his price target for the shares to $18 from $21.

In a note to clients titled “If you can’t comp positively now…”, Horvers noted that the stock has run up 16% since the House passed the tax bill in November, and recent estimate revisions suggest the Street is assuming 50% flow through of tax savings.

He believes this could prove “aggressive” considering the increased competition in the home furnishings space and Bed Bath & Beyond’s need to invest in advertising, price and infrastructure.

Horvers doesn’t see a turn “in sight” for the company’s comps given that the retailer was unable to post positive same-store sales during the critical holiday season despite a “robust” consumer backdrop.

Bed Bath & Beyond posted a 0.3% decline in SSS last quarter despite including November, “which was arguably the best month of the year for retailers.”

Additionally, the analyst noted that his work indicates that trends have slowed sequentially quarter-to-date, in contrast to a string of positive pre-announcements from retailers. He sees margin pressure getting worse before getting better and believes that sales may take longer to rebound.

COMPETITORS

Bed Bath & Beyond competes with offerings from Amazon (AMZN) and Target (TGT), as well as companies including Kohl’s (KSS), Overstock (OSTK) and Wayfair (W).

Earlier this month, Loop Capital said Amazon has become “more aggressive” in its pricing strategy, and that in a study across a basket of 50 items for both companies, Bed Bath & Beyond prices were on average 19.8% more expensive than Amazon.

Target recently said that its comparable sales in the combined November/December period grew 3.4%, which was better than the company previously said that it expected, and Target raised its FY17 earnings view.

Kohl’s, meanwhile, said that its total and comparable sales for the November and December combined period were up 6.9% over last year.

Kohl’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mansell noted that “All lines of business and all regions reported positive comp sales” for the critical holiday period.

In December, Bed Bath & Beyond beat analysts’ estimates on the top and bottom line and backed its FY17 adjusted EPS view.

The company forecast FY17 revenue flat to slightly positive and SSS down in the low single-digit percentage range.

PRICE ACTION

Bed Bath & Beyond is down about 6% in morning trading to $21.70.


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Wal-Mart reports on Thursday

What to watch in Wal-Mart earnings report

Wal-Mart Guides Higher. See Stockwinners.com for details

Wal-Mart (WMT) is scheduled to report results of its third quarter before the market open on Thursday, November 16, with a conference call scheduled for 7:00 am EDT.

What to watch for:

1. GUIDANCE:

Wal-Mart is expected to update its guidance for the fiscal year. Wal-Mart previously forecast Q3 EPS of 90c-98c and comp sales for Walmart U.S. up 1.5%-2% excluding fuel and Sam’s Club comps excluding fuel up 1%-1.5%.

The company raised the low end of its FY18 adjusted EPS view to $4.30-$4.40 from $4.20-$4.40 and backed this guidance at its investor day.

Also at the investor day event, Wal-Mart forecast FY19 EPS to be up approximately 5% vs. FY18 adjusted EPS, with consolidated net sales growing at or above 3%. Baird analyst Peter Benedict expects a solid quarter with good comps and traffic momentum and a guide to earnings growth.

2. COMPETITION:

Retailers like Wal-Mart have been hurt by an increase in online shopping on sites like Amazon (AMZN) rather than at brick-and-mortar stores.

According to reports, Wal-Mart has raised prices for some food and household items on its U.S. website to be higher than prices for the same products sold in-store in an effort to increase profits and drive store traffic.

Wal-Mart, which has previously tried to keep online prices equal to in-store prices, is testing a new system, which has caused higher web prices for products that would otherwise be unprofitable to ship.

Wal-Mart recently sent a recreational vehicle to the University of Pennsylvania as part of a roughly dozen college recruitment tour to break into Ivy League recruitment, Bloomberg reported. The move comes after CEO Doug McMillon told investors Wal-Mart would “look even more like a tech company” to respond to competition from Amazon.

Recently, rival eBay (EBAY) said it will match rivals’ prices on many top Black Friday deals through Cyber Monday. Lidl is gaining little traction after expanding in the U.S. with grocers Wal-Mart and Kroger (KR) recovering most of the market share they lost when the German discounter opened its first nine U.S. stores in June, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.

In October, Wal-Mart said it expects to have grocery pickup in over 2,000 stores by the end of 2018 and noted that its Sam’s Club fresh food efforts are “really encouraging.”

3. OTHER INITIATIVES:

Wal-Mart is looking to grow its presence in the online fashion market, recently buying Bonobos, ShoeBuy, Moosejaw and ModCloth.

Wal-Mart President and CEO Doug McMillon said on the Q2 earnings call that the retailer is testing associate delivery of online orders in “a few” stores and plans to have approximately 100 automated pickup towers in stores across the U.S. by the end of the year, “where customers can pick up their orders within a matter of minutes.”

He also noted that Wal-Mart has tests going on with “digital endless aisle shopping, robotics and image analytics to scan aisles for outs and we’re using machine learning to assist our merchants with pricing.”

More recently, Walmart.com and Lord & Taylor said that Lord & Taylor will launch a flagship store on Walmart.com in Spring 2018.

4. HOLIDAY SEASON:

Wal-Mart is giving employees the opportunity to work extra hours during the holiday season rather than hire temporary seasonal workers.

In addition, the retailer said it will offer more than 2M items for free two-day shipping without a membership fee on orders over $35.

Also, Wal-Mart announced plans to bring back its Holiday Helpers, associates dedicated to assisting customers, and will increase the number of them in stores to help customers.

Wal-Mart will also host more than 20,000 holiday parties at its Supercenters.

WMT last traded at $90.58.


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Target reports on Wednesday

What to watch in Target’s earnings report

target

Target (TGT) is scheduled to report results of its third fiscal quarter before the market open on Wednesday, November 15, with a conference call scheduled for 8:00 am EDT.

What to watch for:

1. COMPETITION WITH ONLINE RETAILERS

Retailers like Target have been hurt by an in online shopping on sites like Amazon (AMZN) rather than at brick-and-mortar stores. Analysts and investors will be listening for Target executives to comment on Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.

Earlier this month, Reuters said Target and other retailers are using legal rights in real estate agreements to limit the initiatives of Amazon’s Whole Foods Market in malls, adding that the retailers have legal rights that enable them to limit Amazon’s Whole Foods activity near their location and bans on Amazon lockers and delivery operations near Target stores in Illinois and Florida have already been established. Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger told investors that her firm’s latest apparel survey lends support to her belief that Amazon is quickly gaining traction at the expense of department stores and certain specialty retailers.

Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said that the retail environment is “crowded” and the environment will continue to be challenging.

2. GUIDANCE

Following better than expected second quarter results, Target forecast third quarter adjusted EPS of 75c-95c and said both Q3 and Q4 comp growth will be within the range the company experienced in Q1 and Q2. The company expects FY17 comp sales growth to be around flat, plus or minus 1%.

Target again raised its FY17 adjusted EPS view to $4.34-$4.54 from $3.80-$4.20.

3. HOLIDAY SEASON UPDATE

Target recently announced plans for the holiday season, including free shipping and gifts under $15.

The company is also allowing customers to receive their orders in several ways, including visiting one of its 1,800 stores, ordering online for delivery from Target.com, using Order Pickup or using Target Restock.

Last month Target said it planned to hire about 100,000 team members across the country for the upcoming holiday season, up from the 70,000 employees it hired last year, and said it would hire 4,500 team members at the company’s distribution and fulfillment centers to replenish products to stores and fulfill digital sales throughout the season. Earlier this month, Target announced its nationwide expansion on Google Express (GOOG, GOOGL), including voice- activated shopping, as well as the addition of Target REDcard as a payment option in 2018.

4. STORE REMODELS, CLOSURES

Target is expanding its plans to remodel supercenters and open smaller stores in cities. Target will remodel over 55% of its current stores by year end 2020.

CEO Brian Cornell said sales have increased 2%-4% at recently remodeled stores.

In addition to the 110 stores remodeled in 2017, Target plans to fully renovate more than 325 in 2018, 350 in 2019 and 325 in 2020.

CNBC said Target is planning to close about a dozen underperforming stores in Michigan, Florida, Illinois, and Texas, with those locations closing in February of 2018.

“We have a rigorous process in place to evaluate the performance of every store on an annual basis, closing or relocating underperforming locations as needed,” a spokesperson said, adding that “Typically, a store is closed as a result of seeing several years of decreasing profitability.”

TGT last traded at $59.78. The issue has a 52-weeks trading range of $48.56 – $79.33.


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