Business

Comcast tops Fox with $38.8 billion offer for Sky

The battle for ownership of British broadcaster Sky ended on Saturday with Comcast outbidding 21st Century Fox with a $38.8 billion bid through a U.K. auction. Comcast’s offer of about £17.28 per share beat Fox’s highest bid of £15.67 in a three round bidding battle that began on Friday. The results were announced by The Takeover Panel. Following the auction 21st Century Fox, which owns 39% of Sky, said they are “considering options” regarding their share. “We note the increased cash offer for the fully diluted share capital of Sky by Comcast, and that it has been recommended by the Independent Committee of Sky,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement. “Sky is a remarkable story and we are proud to have played such a significant role in building the incredible value reflected today in Comcast’s offer.” It is unusual for an auction to be used for a corporate deal and is rare for settling a takeover of a public company the size of Sky, which has a market capitalization of more than $35 billion. The auction pitted Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which owns 39% of Sky, against Comcast and CEO Brian Roberts. The Walt Disney company is buying Fox’s entertainment assets for $71 billion. 21st Century Fox is the parent company of FOX Business and Fox News.

Dow jumps 250 points to record high as Apple rises and trade-war fears simmer down

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its first record high since January on Thursday as gains in Apple and a decrease in trade fears lifted the 30-stock index. The Dow rose 250 points as Boeing, Caterpillar and Apple outperformed. The S&P 500 also rose 0.7 percent to an all-time high, its first since late August, as materials and tech outperformed. President Donald Trump touted the S&P 500’s record in a tweet, saying, “S&P 500 HITS ALL-TIME HIGH Congratulations USA!” Art Cashin, director of floor operations for UBS, said the Dow’s record should be a bullish confirmation of the high reached by the Dow Transports last week. “That should be a Dow theory buy signal,” Cashin said. “According to the theory, the economy is supposed to be improving and therefore you have six to nine months of a higher stock market.” The Nasdaq Composite also rose 0.9 percent as Amazon gained 1.1 percent ahead of an event where they are expected to unveil new Alexa-powered devices. Apple, meanwhile, jumped 1.6 percent. Boeing and Caterpillar, two bellwethers for trade, rose 1.1 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Great news in this Trump economy!!!   For more, click on the text above.      🙂

Frozen dinners make a comeback

Frozen dinners are on a hot streak. Sales of microwavable meals are rising at the fastest pace in a decade, drawing attention from food-company executives otherwise struggling with falling sales for well known but outdated brands. “We believe this is not a blip,” said Sean Connolly, chief executive of Conagra Brands Inc., maker of Healthy Choice, Banquet and Marie Callender’s frozen meals. “For the first time in a generation, this space is starting to be modernized again.” Sales of frozen entrees rose 5.7% over the year ended July 15, according to market-research firm Spins, after annual growth of 0.6% and 1.5% the previous two years. The latest bump outpaces the 2% rise in overall packaged-food sales and marks a change from several years of diminishing sales in frozen meals earlier this decade. Conagra, Nestlé SA and Kraft Heinz Co. are spending millions of dollars to freshen up frozen brands, introduce new ones and expand manufacturing capacity. Karrin Childs, a 37-year-old accountant in Akron, Ohio, got past her aversion to bland frozen meals after trying Nestlé’s new Lean Cuisine dishes, such as butternut squash ravioli, in distinctive black packaging. “It’s always good to have one in your freezer in case of an emergency,” she said. Efforts to cut salt, sugar and other less healthful ingredients from ready-made meals appear to be resonating with customers who like their convenience. Sales of other frozen foods such as vegetables and pizza have also improved recently. Overall frozen-food sales rose 3% in the year ended July 15, according to Spins. The pickup in sales of frozen meals comes as companies have shaken up both the ingredients and the packaging used. Last year Nestlé introduced Wildscape, a brand of frozen foods made with ingredients like honey-bourbon brisket and cauliflower in gochujang sauce. Wildscape meals — like chimichurri chicken with roasted peppers, red potatoes, farro, aji amarillo purée and almonds — are packaged in semitransparent plastic jars inspired by ice-cream containers. “Historically it’s been about comfort food; now it’s about modern American cuisine,” said Jeff Hamilton, head of Nestlé’s U.S. foods division, which sells a dozen frozen-meal brands including Stouffer’s, Hot Pockets and DiGiorno. Conagra put its new Healthy Choice Power Bowls in plant-based, compostable packaging to appeal to consumers who said they didn’t like microwaving plastic. Healthy Choice sales rose about 20% in the fiscal fourth quarter ended in May, bringing the brand to $400 million in retail sales for the fiscal year. Mr. Connolly said that success encouraged Conagra to buy Pinnacle Foods Inc. this year for about $8.2 billion, adding Birds Eye, Evol Foods and other frozen brands to its product line. The deal is expected to close by year-end. Modern frozen food dates to Clarence Birdseye, who in the 1920s invented a way to flash-freeze fish, building on an Inuit technique he learned in Canada. That kept food from spoiling without losing as much flavor or nutritional value as slow freezing or canning. In the 1950s, Swanson’s TV dinners and Totino’s frozen pizzas changed the family dinner ritual. In the 1980s, food makers introduced low-fat and low-sodium brands to match diet trends. Most brands hadn’t changed much since then until recently, executives say.

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Analysis: Trump has set economic growth on fire. Here is how he did it

President Donald Trump is more than 19 months into an administration engulfed in so much controversy that it may overshadow a tremendous achievement, namely an economic boom uniquely his. During his time in office, the economy has achieved feats most experts thought impossible. GDP is growing at a 3 percent-plus rate. The unemployment rate is near a 50-year low. Meanwhile, the stock market has jumped 27 percent amid a surge in corporate profits. Friday brought another round of good news: Nonfarm payrolls rose by a better-than-expected 201,000 and wages, the last missing piece of the economic recovery, increased by 2.9 percent year over year to the highest level since April 2009. That made it the best gain since the recession ended in June 2009. His critics, a group that includes a legion of Wall Street economists, most Democrats and even some in his own Republican Party, don’t believe it will last. They figure the current boom will begin petering out as soon as mid-2019 and possibly end in recession in 2020. But even they acknowledge that the current numbers are a uniquely Trumpian achievement and not owed to policies already set in motion when he took office. “I still believe the big story this year is an economic boom that most folks thought impossible,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council and a chief advisor to Trump, said in a recent interview with CNBC.com. “I understand that he’s been in for a year and a half, but when you look at those numbers, this is not going away.” Indeed, the economy does seem to be on fire, and it’s fairly easy to draw a straight line from Trump’s policies to the current trends. Business confidence is soaring, in part thanks to a softer regulatory environment. Consumer sentiment by one measure is at its highest level in 18 years. Corporate profits, owed in good part to last year’s tax cuts, are coming close to setting records. Each of those accomplishments can be tied either directly to new policies or at least indirectly through a brimming sense of hope from businesses that the White House is back on their side. “When you look at those confidence indexes, they’re telling you something,” Kudlow said. “His attitude is, we’re not punishing business, we’re not punishing success, we want to make things easier to do business and to hire, and I think it’s had a very positive effect and a very palpable effect.” GDP most recently gained 4.2 percent in the second quarter, the best performance in nearly four years. At the same time, the unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, just one-tenth of a percentage point above the lowest level since 1969. But there are some more telling figures about just how much progress has been made under Trump. At a time when most economists had been using the term “full employment” to describe the economy, 3.9 million more Americans have joined the ranks of the working during the Trump term. During the same period under former President Barack Obama, employment had fallen by 2.6 million. The economy in total, while still not in breakout mode, has grown by $1.4 trillion through the second quarter under Trump; the same time period for Obama saw a gain of just $481 billion, or a third of Trump’s total. Businesses are investing, consumers are spending and innovation is on the rise as well. Trump pledged that he would pare down regulations that were choking business activity. While the actual moves toward deregulation haven’t been quite as ambitious as planned, the approach has won him converts in the business community. The most recent reading from the National Federation of Independent Business was the second highest in history dating back 45 years. Small business owners reported aggressive hiring plans, the only obstacle to which has been a dearth of labor supply. The end of June saw 6.7 million job openings and just 6.6 million Americans classified as unemployed, an unprecedented imbalance. “Expansion continues to be a priority for small businesses who show no signs of slowing as they anticipate more sales and better business conditions.” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said in a statement. Trump’s economic program was very simple: an attack on taxes and regulations with an extra dose of spending on infrastructure and the military that would create a supply shock to a moribund economy. On the tax side, the White House pushed through a massive $1.5 trillion reform plan that sliced the highest-in-the-world corporate tax from 35 percent to 21 percent and lowered rates for millions of taxpayers…

And that’s just for starters, folks!  There is absolutely no doubt that this economy IS “on fire,” and that it is “uniquely Trumpian…,” which is driving the Dems on the left completely nuts.  MAGA!      🙂

Poll: Nike Favorability Crashes 34% with Kaepernick Ad Campaign

A poll from Morning Consult shows devastating results for Nike’s brand favorability, in the days after making Colin Kaepernick the face of their new ad campaign. According to the poll via Axios, Nike’s numbers “dropped 34 points from a net +69 favorable impression (76% favorable, 7% unfavorable) among consumers to a net +35 favorable impression (60% favorable, 24% unfavorable).” These numbers are nothing short of devastating for Nike, and with no other news worthy of note, there’s no explanation for the sudden decline other than the company’s commitment to Kaepernick. According to Axios: “While Nike could face negative purchasing consideration as a result of the campaign, experts argue the sports goods giant likely calculated these risks and deemed that it wouldn’t impact its bottom line significantly, despite any short-term pushback. According to the poll, before Nike announced Kaepernick as the face of its ad campaign, only 2% of Americans reported hearing something negative about Nike recently. That number increased to 33% after the announcement. The poll also found that purchasing intent was down after the announcement. Earlier Morning Consult polling shows that brands have relatively little upside in wading into issues that involve President Trump.” Another key finding of the poll was that Nike’s favorability not only didn’t improve among African Americans, it actually declined. This finding is particularly devastating considering it was widely reported that Nike decided to embrace Kaepernick, in part, to increase their already considerable appeal among blacks. The report features over 8,000 interviews conducted among American adults, including 1,694 interviews pre-campaign launch (8/26/18 – 9/3/18) and 5,481 interviews post-campaign launch (9/4/18 – 9/5/18). Additionally, Morning Consult conducted a study among 1,168 adults in the U.S. about Nike’s ad and the decision to choose Kaepernick as the face of the campaign.

Paid ‘fur-ternity leave’ for new pet owners offered by Minnesota company

A Minnesota digital marketing company is making going to work less ruff for employees with new pets. Nina Hale in Minneapolis is offering a “fur-ternity leave” policy that allows employees to work from home for one week when they get a new dog or cat, WTVR reports. Two workers inspired the new policy after asking if they could stay home and work so they could be with their new pets, Inc. reports. “We had other employees that were talking about getting a pet, so we just thought, why not make it an official policy?” Robinson told the business magazine. “If it’s important to the employee, it’s important to us.” Nontraditional benefits like a pet leave policy are especially appealing at Nina Hale, which has a young workforce, according to Inc., which placed the firm on its Best Workplaces list in 2017. Account manager Conner McCarthy was able to work from home after adopting a 5-month-old Goldendoodle. “When [Bentley] first came home, he was definitely a lot more nervous about the new environment, which is where the ‘work from home’ really came in and helped us out,” he told WCCO-TV. Nina Hale has about 80 employees.

Definitely a creative benefit..    🙂

Target CEO raves about the state of the economy: This is the best consumer environment ‘I’ve seen in my career’

Consumer spending is back and has never been better as far as Target CEO Brian Cornell is concerned. “There’s no doubt that, like others, we’re currently benefiting from a very strong consumer environment — perhaps the strongest I’ve seen in my career,” Cornell told analysts on a call Wednesday. The retailer’s shares are surging after reporting fiscal second-quarter results that beat on earnings, revenue and comparable store sales. Just when many investors have written off brick-and-mortar retailers in the era of Amazon, Target is seeing a huge jump in foot traffic. “We’re seeing a great consumer response … unprecedented traffic. As we go back and look, we’ve never seen traffic growth like this,” Cornell said Wednesday morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” The big-box retailer also said digital sales skyrocketed more than 40 percent during the second quarter, as it’s been investing in adding more items to its website and adding more delivery options for online orders. Building on that momentum, Target raised its earnings outlook for the full year. Its shares climbed more than 5.5 percent in early trading on the news, hitting an all-time intraday high of $88.89. Target has been focused on reinvesting in its business ever since it laid out a strategy at the start of last year to pour $7 billion into expanding its e-commerce platform, bulking up its lineup of in-house brands, opening new small-format stores and remodeling existing locations. Cornell said those investments appear to be paying off, with Target on Wednesday reporting its strongest same-store sales growth in 13 years. “On any given day, 90 percent of retail sales are done in physical stores,” the CEO said. A healthy U.S. economy, rebounding consumer confidence and record low unemployment is also benefiting Walmart. It reported earnings last week that also topped analysts’ expectations, driving Walmart shares up more than 9 percent in one day. “I think what you’re seeing right now from a macro basis is well-run retailers with strong balance sheets that generate cash … are winning right now,” Target’s Cornell told analysts and investors. “And there’s obviously others right now that can’t afford to invest in their store experience, or build capabilities or drive differentiation. And they’re giving up share. So there’s clearly winners and losers. We certainly think we’re migrating to the winners column.”

Indeed!!  Target is definitely make aggressive moves and it’s paying off.  Excellent!!    🙂