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Anheuser-Busch is reportedly talking to banks about financing in what could be a roughly $122 billion deal to buy SABMiller.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 15, 2014 2:11PM
Credit: © Francois Lenoir Reuters

Caption: View of the Anheuser-Busch InBev logo outside the brewer's headquartersBy John Kell, Fortune

The world's largest brewers appear to be angling to get even bigger, with reports saying Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) is in talks with banks to finance a deal to buy SABMiller PLC, which itself sought to buy Dutch brewer Heineken NV in a deal that was rejected.


AB InBev is reportedly talking to banks about financing what could be a roughly $122 billion deal to buy SABMiller, The Wall Street Journal reported, a deal that would combine the globe's top two beer makers. 


A potential merger between those two giants has been rumored for years, a deal that would join AB InBev's portfolio -- which includes Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona -- with SABMiller's Coors, Miller and Leinenkugel's.

 
Tags: BUD

Markus 'Notch' Persson says he wasn't motivated by money to close the deal. 'It's about my sanity.'

By MSN Money Partner Sep 15, 2014 1:20PM
Credit: © Paul Hennessy/Newscom/Polaris Images

Caption: Minecraft creator Markus ‘Notch’ PerssonBy Dave Smith, Business Insider

Microsoft (MSFTofficially announced its $2.5 billion purchase of Mojang, the Swedish company behind the ultrapopular game "Minecraft," on Monday. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

Markus "Notch" Persson (pictured), the game's developer, has mixed emotions about the success of his company.


"As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments," Persson said in a blog post. "If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately."


Persson said he had wanted to step down from the development of Minecraft "a relatively long time ago," but he said he stuck with the team because "people said I was important for the culture, [so] I stayed." 

 
Tags: MSFT

Competitors including McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts would be wise to carve their own seasonal niches rather than copy a pumpkin-spiced favorite.

By TheStreet.com Staff Sep 15, 2014 1:08PM

The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte // Courtesy of StarbucksBy Jason Notte, TheStreet


Setting your calendar to Starbucks (SBUX) pumpkin spice latte is a bit basic, but reeling in repeat customers with a signature seasonal items is basically just a great idea.


The Starbucks pumpkin spice latte inhabits a place in our culture that the coffee chain's fast-food competitors and retail counterparts just can't find. In its 11th year of existence, the pumpkin spice latte has its own Twitter feed (@TheRealPSL), its own Tumblr, a post-Labor-Day release date, secret codes to get the drink as early as Aug. 26 and lengthy historical accounts and passionate defenses from esteemed publications. The flavor has been replicated so often by competitors including McDonald's (MCD), Dunkin Donuts (DNKN) and even Mars' M&M's, that the amount of "pumpkin spice"-- a mix of pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon -- in food served by restaurants increased 234 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to Datassential Menu Trends.

 

The chain sold the one-of-a-kind item for $129, and said its stains and holes were due to discoloration and natural fray.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 15, 2014 1:08PM
Credit: Courtesy of Urban Outfitters/Buzzfeed

Caption: Screenshot showing Urban Outfitters’ Vintage Kent State SweatshirtBy Lindsey Rupp, Bloomberg News

Kent State University, the site of a shooting in 1970 that killed four students, criticized Urban Outfitters (URBN) for selling a sweatshirt with its college logo and what appears to be splattered blood.


"We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit," the Ohio university said in a statement online. "This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today."


Urban Outfitters, a retail chain with a history of stocking controversial items, sold the one-of-a kind item for $129 on its website as part of an assortment of vintage clothing. 


The company said on Twitter today that there was no blood on the shirt, and the stains and holes were a result of discoloration and "natural wear and fray."

 
Tags: URBN

The company launched the soda brand in the 1990s to compete with Mountain Dew. Sales didn't exactly take off.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 15, 2014 12:56PM
By Ashley Lutz, Business Insider

Coca-Cola (KO) is bringing back Surge more than a decade after it was discontinued. 

The company will start selling 12-packs of Surge on Amazon (AMZN) today, writes Sapna Maheshwari at Buzzfeed.


Surge was launched in the '90s to compete with Mountain Dew. But the drink failed to sell and was discontinued 12 years ago. 


In a statement, Coca-Cola says that it is launching Surge in a response to an online campaign. 


A Facebook group called "SURGE Movement" has more than 100,000 fans on Facebook. The page was founded by Evan Carr of California in 2012.

 
Tags: KO

Investors who are shelving the stock should consider putting it in their basket instead.

By Jim Cramer Sep 15, 2014 12:30PM

A customer checks out of a Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C. © Andrew Councill/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesIs it Whole Foods (WFM) vs. Kroger (KR)? Or is the world big enough for both?


I think the answer is the latter, and while Whole Foods has stumbled of late and Kroger's been red hot, I am beginning to wonder if we aren't nearing the end of the lack of performance from the best natural and organic retailer in the country.


First, a word about Kroger. It was a magnificent performer, once again, last week, talking about accelerating comparable-store sales -- an astounding 4.8 percent when I was looking for slightly more than 4 percent -- and an exciting integration of both Vitacost, an on-line vitamin company, and Harris Teeter, a recently purchased supermarket chain. The former gave the company terrific e-commerce tools and the latter is just the kind of classic expansion that allows for Krogerization of the North Carolina operation. Kroger's still selling at less than a market multiple despite its excellent execution, amazingly strong private label operation and a healthy embrace of natural and organic foods.

 

The tech company's core business should be worth $5 billion, almost none of which is realized in its current price.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 15, 2014 12:20PM
Yahoo logo on a smartphone (© KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)By J.J. Zhang, MarketWatch

Alibaba Group is about to take the IPO crown when it's expected to debut on Sept 18. It's a long-awaited debut for what is the largest Internet and e-commerce based company in the world.


While relatively unknown in the west, Alibaba has a myriad of operations, and investments, from its Alibaba marketplace (wholesale business-to-business sales and service), Taobao marketplace (think Amazon and eBay combined), Alipay (think PayPal and all mobile payments combined), TMall (think online Best Buy), cloud services (think SalesForce.com), Tudou (think Netflix and Youtube), and many more. 


Basically almost everything you can buy or do on the internet in China, Alibaba has some ownership of it. It has also recently started expanding into a more global company, bringing its services and products to a larger audience.

 
Tags: YHOO

The grocery giant expanded its Simple Truth line nationwide 2 years ago and has seen consistent growth.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 12, 2014 3:24PM
Kroger logo on a grocery cart (© Brian Christopher/Demotix/Demotix/Corbis)By Justin Bachman, Businessweek

Organic foods have long carried a price premium along with a certain snob appeal or caricature, depending on your view: fancy eats for affluent folks, not the hungry and thrifty masses. 


So much for that stereotype. Organic products sold under Kroger's (KR) store brand are about to top $1 billion in annual sales.


The grocery giant expanded its Simple Truth natural and organic foods line nationwide two years ago and has seen consistent sales growth. The company touts the brand as being "Free From 101" artificial ingredients and preservatives. 


Kroger says it has more than 35,000 products that are organic or natural, with about one-sixth of those added in the past year. (Natural foods are prepared with minimal processing and are not considered organic.)

 
Tags: KRWFM

The delivery company is feeling pressure from the ubiquity of free shipping, fierce competition from other delivery services and Amazon's power to drive down shipping costs.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 12, 2014 3:12PM
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UPS truck in New York CityBy Laura Stevens, The Wall Street Journal

When United Parcel Service (UPS) Chief Executive David Abney bought his first book from Amazon (AMZN) about 15 years ago, e-commerce seemed no more complicated than ordering from a catalog. "Pretty basic," he says.


Online sales have mushroomed since then into a huge business for the package-delivery company -- and a big problem.


Because of the ubiquity of free shipping, fierce competition from other delivery services and Amazon's power to drive down shipping costs as it gets even more enormous, UPS' average revenue on each Internet-related package it handles is dropping.

 

Many workers say they're happy right where they are and aren't seeking to climb to the top.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 12, 2014 2:20PM
Credit: © Ciaran Griffin/Getty Images
Caption: CEO sign on desk, close up, man in backgroundBy Kathryn Dill, Forbes

The American employment landscape is often portrayed as hierarchical, competitive, and geared towards driven achievers always striving for that next rung -- but many employees don't see themselves represented in that picture.


According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, the vast majority of American workers do not, in fact, have their eyes on the top job in their field or organization. 


Just 34 percent of respondents aspire to leadership positions. A paltry 7 percent are working towards the C-suite.


The survey was conducted online by Harris (HRS) Poll for CareerBuilder, and included more than 3,600 full-time workers in private sector and government jobs, across various compensation levels, industries, and companies.

 
Tags: HRS

Newsletter writer Marc Faber is still waiting on a massive market loss. He's keeping a diverse portfolio in the meantime.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 12, 2014 2:03PM
Image: Bear © DLILLC, CorbisBy Alex Rosenberg, CNBC

Marc Faber famously predicts that U.S. stocks will lose 30 percent of their value -- a prognostication, needless to say, that has not proven particularly prescient over the years. 


Still, the author of the Gloom, Boom & Doom report continues to see bubbles everywhere he looks, especially in U.S. equities.


Given his near-apocalyptic outlook, it's unsurprising that Faber's greatest focus is on avoiding losses. But what's incredible is the degree of portfolio destruction he's willing to tolerate.


"I hope that when the collapse happens, I'm only going to lose 50 percent of my money," Faber said Thursday on CNBC's "Futures Now."


As to the specific makeup of his portfolio, it's all about diversification.

 

The stock is up 18% after the beauty retailer posted healthy increases in sales and raised its full-year outlook.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 12, 2014 1:20PM
Credit: © ULTA Beauty via www.ulta.com
Caption: An Ulta Beauty storefrontBy Bradley Seth McNew, The Motley Fool

It's all glitter and glam once again for beauty and fragrance retailer Ulta Salon, Cosmetics, & Fragrance (ULTA). 


Following a very successful first quarter, the company posted great second-quarter results, released Thursday evening, as well. 


Compared to competitor Regis (RGS), which has posted poor results in the last two quarters, ULTA seems to be a beautiful company right now.


Here are Ulta's second-quarter highlights:

 
Tags: RGSULTA

The Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple may have a chicken-and-egg situation on its hands as teens say they'd want the Apple Watch if it was perceived as cool by their peers.

By TheStreet.com Staff Sep 12, 2014 1:16PM

The Apple Watch is displayed in Cupertino, Calif. © David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Jenn Van Grove, TheStreet


What will it take for Apple's (AAPL) newest invention, the Apple Watch, to find its way on to the wrists of today's youngest consumers? Perhaps just a little creative marketing and a whole lot of cool points.


Tuesday, Apple showed off a new category of mobile device it expects to carry the company into the future. A mix of fashion of function, the Apple Watch will retail starting at $349 and offer consumers a variety of smartphone-inspired functions including email, messaging, notifications, maps, photos, activity-tracking sensors, and apps, all in miniature form.


Slated to arrive early next year, the Apple Watch will enter an unproven wearable market (one that's expected to be worth $60 billion by 2018, according to research firm IHS) and will need to do the seemingly impossible: convince consumers, especially young ones, of the value of wearing an expensive smartwatch on their wrists. Though a growing number of people are amenable to wearables like fitness bands, such as those made by Fitbit or Jawbone, just 5 percent of U.S. consumers plan to buy a smartwatch in the next year, according to a study by the Acquity Group. That could change dramatically, however, as 25 percent of consumers plan to own one in the next five years, the study found.

 

The social network is testing a video push that could undercut Google's dominance of the online video ad market.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 12, 2014 1:01PM
Caption: The 'Facebook' logo is seen on a tablet screen
Credit: © LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty ImagesBy Mike Shields and Reed Albergotti, The Wall Street Journal

In what may be another signal that Facebook (FB) wants to take on YouTube, the company has reached out to some of the Google-owned (GOOG) video site's biggest content producers and encouraged them to test distributing their videos on the social network, say people familiar with the matter.


Already some YouTube content producers, including Walt Disney's (DIS) Maker Studios and Collective Digital Studio, have experimented with putting some of their top YouTube series on Facebook. 


Collective has made available its animated viral hit "The Annoying Orange" on the social network, for example. The videos are being delivered to Facebook users via the social network's news feed and on individual creator's pages.

 

Anything that takes pressure off American budgets is good news for corporate revenue, and 2 of the biggest costs are coming down.

By InvestorPlace Sep 12, 2014 12:36PM

Image: Groceries © Tetra Images/CorbisBy Dan Burrows


Food and gas take up a large chunk of Americans' disposable income.


Money spent at the grocery store or filling the tank is money not spent on everything else.


Sure, that's fine for oil companies like Exxon Mobil (XOM) and supermarket operators like Kroger (KR), but the market is made up of a lot more than food and gas.


Indeed, since revenue growth isn't doing its part, some market watchers think this bull market is getting ready to expire. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) is hitting record highs thanks to companies' booming profits and margins. Heck, margins are so high, they have no place to go but down.


Revenue growth, however, has been weak. Even after picking up in the second quarter, corporate sales failed to grow faster than earnings. According to data from Thomson Reuters, S&P 500 companies reported an 8.5 percent increase in second-quarter earnings growth but just a 4.6 percent gain in revenue.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the new trading week on the defensive note with small-cap stocks pacing the retreat. The Russell 2000 (-1.4%) and Nasdaq Composite (-1.1%) displayed relative weakness, while the S&P 500 lost 0.8% with all ten sectors ending in the red.

Global equities began showing some cracks overnight after China's Finance Minister Lou Jiwei poured cold water on hopes for new stimulus measures. Specifically, Mr. Lou said the government has no plans to change ... More


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