Some companies hit all-time records last month, while others missed forecasts.
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The coffee giant expects sales from food stores and retail outlets to rival revenues from its coffee operations.
By Miriam Marcus Reimer, TheStreet
Starbucks (SBUX) worked to hold on to the week's gains Friday after the coffee giant said Wednesday that it expects sales of its coffee and other products at grocery stores and retail outlets to one day rival its traditional coffee shop business -- meaning the operating segment would grow more than tenfold from its 2010 results.
On March 23 at Starbucks' annual shareholder meeting in Seattle, CEO Howard Schultz promised investors huge growth in the company's grocery business, less than a month after Starbucks' 12-year arrangement with Kraft Foods (KFT) ended.
Starbucks shares were trading 1% lower at $37.21 Friday afternoon, working to hold on to gains of 5% on Wednesday and 2.4% on Thursday.
The company didn't pay any US taxes in 2010. In fact, it got a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. With video updates.
The company has beaten Uncle Sam. It paid no U.S. taxes for 2010, The New York Times reported. In fact, it received a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
It's not that GE can claim poverty. The company rang up $14.2 billion in profits last year, including $5.1 billion from U.S. operations.
How did GE do it? Through what the Times describes as "innovative accounting" and fierce lobbying, GE has been cutting its tax bill for years. In a stroke of genius, it hired a former Treasury official to lead its tax department and filled its team with former IRS employees and Congressional tax specialists.
The struggling bookseller isn't getting much interest from buyers, so it may get taken private by its founder.
No one wants the bookseller. Shares have dropped 37% since it began taking suitors. It had to cut its dividend, and last week shares hit a 15-year low, Bloomberg reports. Barnes & Noble is the only major retailer trading at a discount to its net assets.
And why would anyone buy it? The large-scale bookstore business is finished, sadly. Barnes & Noble's major competitor, Borders, is in bankruptcy.
The next big hope for the industry is in e-books, but Barnes & Noble suffers in that area as well. The Kindle from Amazon (AMZN) has two-thirds of the e-reader market. There's also competition from Apple's (AAPL) iPad line.
The bankrupt video-rental chain shows more signs of trouble.
By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet
Generally, when a company announces lease cancellations, it means it plans to shutter those stores or look to renegotiate rent. Blockbuster said in a filing that any property left in the stores "shall be deemed abandoned." The struggling movie retailer listed stores in New York, Texas, Florida and California, among others.
Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection in September after struggling to compete with online video services such as Netflix (NFLX). The company won approval earlier in the month to conduct an auction for the company. The starting bid will be $290 million, an offer the company received from a group of investors in February.
After months of sideways action, stocks look ready to be led higher by technology, materials and emerging markets.
The bulls resolved the stalemate that had developed over the past few days resolutely to the upside as the long list of troubles -- the dissolution of the Portuguese government, the Middle East turmoil and the Japanese disaster -- was set aside. People want stocks.
And for the first time in months, they wanted stocks in key cyclical sector groups, including technology, semiconductors and materials. Crude oil and gold both declined as the "risk trade" pulled back and unleashed a wave of confidence. Breadth and volume were solid Thursday as 87% of the stocks in the S&P 500 moved higher on 84% of total trading volume.
Technically, the big news was that the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) -- Wall Street's "fear gauge" -- sliced through its 50-day moving average in a big way for the first time since Feb. 1. Drops through the 50-day MA for the VIX have coincided with uptrend initiations lately. Examples include Sept. 2, Dec. 2, and Feb. 2. I think we're in the midst of another uptrend initiation right now.
Research In Motion's shares tumble 11% after a weak financial forecast and another delay for its superphones.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
RIM posted solid fiscal-fourth-quarter numbers after the bell Thursday but said higher costs for new products like the PlayBook tablet would narrow gross margins to 41% from 44% on lower-than-expected revenue.
The dim forecast knocked RIM shares down 11% and helped confirm suspicions that the BlackBerry maker isn't on a quick-turnaround path.
Betting with the billionaire John Malone.
By Jim Royal, Ph.D.
After being spun off from Discovery Communications (DISCA) in 2008, Ascent is now in a transitional period. It recently disposed of its former media operations entirely and acquired Monitronics, a home security business, from private equity owners. Now Ascent's operations consist solely of Monitronics, and Ascent has left Montironics' managers in charge.
Monitronics has an attractive business model in a recessionary-resistant business. The company uses a network of some 450 independent dealers to source customers, who sign multi-year contracts for ongoing service.
Durable-goods orders have dropped for 2 months in a row, but a key purchasing index tells a different story.
Howard Stern takes on Sirius again. RIM's late entry into the PlayBook game. Hackers climb over the New York Times' paywall. Banks remain on skid row.
Here's some of the dumbest news from business this week:
5. Howard Stern suits up against Sirius XM
When it comes to Stern and his relationship with management, it's always a matter of when, not if, he'll turn on them -- something current employer Sirius XM (SIRI) may have forgotten.
They got a reminder this week when Stern filed suit against his company for allegedly failing to pay stock awards it owed the shock jock in exchange for helping the satellite radio company surpass its subscriber growth target. At the end of December 2010, the company had 20.2 million total subscribers, the highest number of net subscribers in its history. Stern, naturally, believes he played a not-so-small part in making that happen. Read more
Sooner or later, the US will embrace energy independence and will need more fuel from its vast reserves. For that, you'll need Enbridge.
You know oil should be lower. You know it because the second-largest oil producer in the world, Canada, is beginning to ship aggressively into the largest market in the world, the U.S., and it hasn't done anything to dent the price of crude.
Last night on "Mad Money" I talked to the CEO of Enbridge (ENB), a perennial 52-week-high builder of multibillion-dollar pipelines that has done more than just about any company to make our nation energy-independent. Unless you are a pipeline aficionado, the only way you might know of these guys is through their two oil spills last year, which have made siting pipelines a major chore.
The lack of pipeline is what's keeping all of that oil bottled up in Cushing, Okla. Enbridge is going to solve that. It's going to solve the lack of pipeline coming from the biggest oil discovery in a generation, the Bakken Formation. And Enbridge is going to solve the lack of pipeline out of Eagle Ford, another huge deposit.
Walgreen is acquiring one of the largest online retailers for $429 million in cash. With video updates.
Walgreen is spending $429 million in cash on the deal -- a 112% premium to drugstore.com's close on Wednesday. Since it's getting Drugstore.com's $20 million cash hoard, the buyout price is essentially $409 million. Walgreen's share price rose less than 1% to $40.09 in afternoon trading.
Why did Walgreen want Drugstore.com? First and foremost, Walgreen has a terrible online presence. Its website is unattractive and sluggish (check out its "clothing" link). Compare Walgreen's first-aid site with Drugstore.com's first-aid site, and you'll see why Walgreen needed to make this deal.
Check out this video of Drugstore.com's chief executive discussing her business:
Online retailers make shipping charges a thing of the past. Will competitors follow?
Everyone loves a good deal when shopping online. But everyone also hates to find a bargain, only to get gouged on shipping.
L.L. Bean hopes those two factors will work in its favor as it launches a marketplace where online shoppers no longer have to suffer a dime in shipping fees. Like Amazon.com (AMZN) and its dedicated shoe site Zappos, L.L. Bean hopes the lack of fees is offset by the new customers it will win over with the deal.
It's a bold move. The question now, of course, is how many online retailers are going to follow. The answer may surprise you: Many.
The company boosts its share price with a reverse split, opening its stock to new buyers. But no one's fooled.
Every major carmaker will feel the impact from the disaster, analysts say. Japanese automakers have been hit the hardest.
Toyota (TM) says it will probably idle a truck plant in Texas because it can't get enough parts, according to Reuters. "It is likely that we will see some nonproduction days coming," a spokesman said. "At this point, we are still not sure of when those might hit or, if they do it, what the duration may be."
The entire sector is feeling aftershocks from the tragedy. Even American automakers are not immune, as they import parts from Japan. General Motors (GM) temporarily stopped production at a plant in Louisiana and laid off more than 50 workers at a plant in New York.
But the Japanese automakers are the hardest hit, with recovery efforts hampered by widespread power outages.
Post continues after video about Toyota and Honda production:
Easter sales aren't as widespread as those of the winter holidays, but they give shoppers the sugar high they need to snap out of their cold spell.
By Jason Notte, TheStreet
Easter may not have the profile of other holidays, but the bunny is a retail beast. Easter brought in more than $14 billion last year, accounting for 6.1% of all holiday spending, according to IBISWorld. That makes it fifth among its holiday cohorts, falling behind the winter holidays (59.2%), Thanksgiving (13.4%), Valentine's Day (7.5%) and Mother's Day (6.5%).
Last year, the 79.6% of Americans who celebrated Easter spent an average of $118.60. Most of that spending went into Easter baskets as food ($37.45), gifts ($18.16) and candy ($17.29). For such companies as Tootsie Roll (TR), Hershey's (HSY) and Kraft (KFT) -- which is on its second year of making Cadbury Creme Eggs -- Easter is a $1.9 billion basket of goodies, with candy sales second only to Halloween's $2 billion, according to the National Confectioners Association.
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The retailer labels the character's fake memoir as non-fiction. This comes weeks after it categorized the the Bible as fiction.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The drive for five continued today and it was a success. For the fifth straight session, the S&P 500 ended lower. Like the previous four sessions, though, the losses were fairly modest in scope. The S&P 500 declined 0.4%, bringing its total loss for the five sessions to 22 points or 1.2%. All in all, that still qualifies as a pretty tame slide considering the S&P 500 had risen 150 points, or 9.1%, over the previous eight weeks.
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