Posts by Chris Nichols
- The Exchange1 day ago
Thanks to a combination of menu creativity, a continuing image revamp and big rewards for shareholders, Wendy's (WEN) is our chain restaurant stock of the year for 2013.
Wendy's excelled in a few key areas, but we'll start with where it makes its money — the food. This year it was marked by a serious bet on bread, especially with the launch of the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger (and later a chicken version) over the summer, but also evident with trials of a brioche roll and flatbreads. Meanwhile, on its value menu, Wendy's changed things up by putting in more variety than it previously had. With dessert, the Frosty line got a waffle cone alternative for those bored with paper cups.
- The Exchange7 days ago
Conn's (CONN) was back within striking distance of the all-time high it reached earlier this year after the furniture and appliance seller bolted ahead following its latest earnings.
The company's stock was surging 15.1% to $67.26 on volume that nearly tripled its normal daily total only one hour into the session. At the moment, that was good for the 14th-best gain in its 10-year history, and the best day since August 2012, according to FactSet.
Driving the move was a third-quarter earnings report that featured a 50.6% year-over-year revenue increase to $310.9 million, a gross margin improvement of 460 basis points and an upbeat profit forecast for the 2014 fiscal year that's in its final months.
"We achieved the highest quarterly revenue and net income in Conn’s history," Theodore Wright, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "This sales trend continued into November with retail sales expanding 49%. November same store sales rose 32%."
- The Exchange9 days ago
As has been noted before with regard to doughnut seller Krispy Kreme (KKD), when you've got a stock that's run up six times as much as the market since the start of the year, punishment can be severe when expectations aren't met. On Tuesday, the stock was down 19.4% to $19.80, on 10 times the normal volume, following an earnings projection that irked investors. Fiscal year 2015's profits per share will grow as much as 21% from the current year's likely number, but analysts were looking for a bit more from the Winston-Salem, N.C., company. Whereas Krispy Kreme is projecting 71 cents to 76 cents, the consensus forecast called for 77 cents. (Krispy Kreme's current fiscal year, in which Wall Street is estimating 63 cents, will end in January 2014.)
- The Exchange15 days ago
After 35 years in business, The Container Store (TCS) has brought its be-a-better-corporate-citizen ethos to Wall Street.
The Coppell, Texas-based company, which sells all manner of storage and organization goods, went public amid considerable fanfare less than a month ago, spreading its message of treating employees right and doing business the proper way. While small in reach, with 63 stores in 22 states and Washington, D.C., it turned in nearly $707 million in sales for the most recent fiscal year, a number that rose from $633.6 million the year before and $568.8 million the one prior to that.
It's done this by expanding on one basic idea – give people a mind-boggling array of ways to partition their stuff. Go to one of the stores, generally found in the nice part of town, and you'll see that if you need something to hold something, there's a reasonably good chance Container Store has it. The hooks category alone lists 362 options, and toy storage has 264 separate items. There are 210 garage-related products, and 67 listings for shoe storage and care.
- The Exchange15 days ago
When it comes to luxury goods, there aren't many names that come to mind more than Tiffany (TIF). And that's certainly understandable, considering the New York jewelry seller is one of the few companies capable of offering single items that cost more than $1 million. Now that is luxe. However, even at Tiffany, known for its diamonds and platinum bands, seven-figure price tags are exceedingly rare. On Tuesday Tiffany reported earnings for the latest quarter that were strong, giving the company room to raise its profit forecast for the full year. Word that its deep-pocketed clientele is doing all right sent shares soaring more than 8% to an all-time high above $87. (The stock is up 53% year-to-date.) As an exercise, we wanted to see what it would cost you to purchase the single most expensive item from each of the eight main sections Tiffany breaks out for jewelry. Total damage? $11,467,325. Again, that's for only eight items — a bracelet, a brooch, a charm, a set of earrings, a necklace, a ring, one wedding band and the priciest piece of men's jewelry. The single most expensive of them all is the Diamond Fringe Necklace, which will set you back $7 million on its own. Not a misprint. The chart here shows the price level in dollars of the five costliest jewelry items on Tiffany's website: But wait. It doesn't have to be this way. The good news for the bargain shopper, bargain being relative, is that you actually can get a pretty serious haul at Tiffany for much, much less. If you were to buy the lowest-priced item from each of those same eight groups, your outlay would be $1,710. In fact, assuming you aren't getting married, you've got it a lot better. The cheapest wedding band alone is $525, nearly one-third of the total. Take that out, and your "down-market" basket comes to $1,185. Not exactly pocket change, but that makes a Tiffany excursion far more within reach. Here's a closer look at the very expensive, and more within reach, items at Tiffany. Bracelets High: Cobblestone Yellow Diamond Bracelet, $1.3 million. Features 59 yellow diamonds. Combined with its white diamonds, it totals over 100 carats. The bracelet also contains platinum and 18k gold. Low: A few options, including the sterling silver Heart Tag Bracelet for $125. Brooches High: Schlumberger Star Clip, $135,000. Platinum and 18k gold with diamonds. Carat weight 10.21. Low: Elsa Peretti Starfish Brooch in sterling silver for $450. Charms High: Schlumberger Bird Charm or Egg Charm, each $8,250. You'll find diamonds and gemstones that vary depending on the charm. Both also include platinum and 18k gold. Low: "Return to Tiffany" sterling silver Heart Tag Charms or a Letter Disc Charms for $75. Earrings High: Round Brilliant Diamond Earrings, $1.2 million. These large round brilliant-cut diamonds have carat weights of 5.94 and 5.84. Accompanying small round brilliant-cut diamonds have a carat total weight of 0.61. The earrings also contain platinum. Low: You've got
- The Exchange17 days ago
Internet retail in general -- and Amazon.com (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) in particular -- has both dramatically altered the way we shop and struck fear in the hearts of physical stores everywhere. But there just might be a few shops sturdy enough to withstand the ever-more-fierce online onslaught. According to research firm Morningstar, a handful of real-world names are positioned to compete effectively in the digital age, with three companies in particular standing out. One is an auto parts seller, another is a place for pet owners and the third is a lower-priced clothing merchant. Here's who they are, and what they have going in their favor: Advance Auto Parts (AAP): In Morningstar's view, Advance stores do something that's hard to duplicate entirely by way of an online experience, and it's not only because of what's in stock. "It will be difficult for e-commerce firms to match auto-part retailers’ convenience, customer service for complex parts needs and services," the firm says. PetSmart (PETM): The e-commerce side of the pet business has room to grow, standing currently at less than 3% of the industry’s sales, "but it will be difficult for online retailers to meaningfully discount over physical merchants." That's partly because of food. Pet foods don't necessarily cost a lot to buy, though they are heavy in large quantities, and so shipping costs can deter purchases on the Internet. Additionally, PetSmart has succeeded by selling pricier, exclusive items that aren't found at mass merchandisers, and by providing services such as pet lodging. [See related: Petsmart: The New Dog in Town on the S&P] Ross Stores (ROST). Off-price apparel -- name-brand and designer goods sold at prices marked down below many retailers -- means this chain is in a desirable place, Morningstar says. Frequent inventory changes, making store visits like a "treasure hunt," and strong relationships with several thousand clothing vendors are some of the pluses that present challenges to online players who want to invade the space. Also, Ross, found in 33 states and Washington, D.C., aims to make the items in its stores meet the preferences of local shoppers, giving it a chance to appeal to consumers regardless of where they live or their demographic. Digital growth Now, Morningstar isn't saying a company operating in retail can be entirely immune to e-commerce. Online sales are now more than 6% of sales in the U.S., the report says, and growth in the digital arena is expected to be in the low-double-digit rate for each of the next few years. "Ease of website development, cheap payment processing options and immediate global reach have removed almost all barriers to entry and flooded the retail space with competition," the report points out. "With more than half of the world's Internet users coming from emerging markets, we expect e-commerce growth will remain strong in the years to come." As we know, the revolution in retail has meant the end of the road for some of those that couldn't keep
- The Exchange22 days ago
If history holds, Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) is about to salvage at least some of its forgettable year for investors, while Best Buy's (BBY) magical turnaround is set to take a hit. For Abercrombie, the past few months have been marked by weak sales and bad publicity, the latter led by years-old remarks from the company's CEO in which he noted a clear preference that his clothes' buyers be trim and attractive. Meanwhile, Best Buy has seen a rebirth, thanks to a new focus on stores that's designed to brighten up your TV-and-speakers shopping experience. That's paid off for Best Buy's shares, which have bolted ahead by a whopping 226.7%, making the stock the second-best performer in the S&P 500 so far for 2013. Going the opposite way is Abercrombie, having slumped 27.1%. But have we arrived at reversal time? Over the past 10 years, going long the teen-apparel merchant has reaped an average gain of 5.8% during the annual holiday shopping spree, a move that, if repeated in 2013, would mean a little cheer is coming for stockholders sitting on a sizable year-to-date loss. At the same time, the big electronics chain was best-played on the short side 80% of the time.
- Chris Nichols at The Exchange1 mth ago
Good news if you like peanut butter and coffee: You're paying less today for both than you were a year ago.
Peanut butter prices at the end of September were down 7.1% from the same month in 2012, and roasted coffee was lower by 7.3%, so grab a spoon and brew some java. Now for the unfortunate part — those are among the few items on the grocery store shelves that have seen declines.
Yes, most of the food and beverages we consume — north of 70% of all those detailed by the federal government — cost us more today than they did last year at this time, with the goods on the rise overpowering, for many of us anyway, those cheaper items we might be finding. Potatoes have had the biggest increase, up 13.2%, and bacon is another large mover, with prices higher by 9.3%.
On the whole, food prices have climbed 1.4% over the past year, the Labor Department said recently. If you bought food to eat at home, that required 1% more out of pocket, while dining at a restaurant, not surprisingly, took a greater toll, costing you 1.9% above what it did a year earlier.
- Chris Nichols at Daily Ticker1 mth ago
Wendy's (WEN) is working furiously to separate itself from the triad it's long made up with Burger King (BKW) and McDonald's (MCD), namely by trying to escape traditional fast food for the promised land – or at least nearby it – of "fast-casual" dining.
The market certainly appears to believe what's taking place at the Dublin, Ohio, Frosty and fries seller makes it a brighter prospect than its brethren. This year, shares of the third-biggest burger chain have surged 85% to $8.69, easily exceeding the 29% gain at Burger King and the 9% increase for McDonald's. The stock has also markedly outpaced the 23% advance in the S&P 500.
- Chris Nichols at The Exchange1 mth ago
Panic undoubtedly has set in among a segment of the world's alcohol drinkers after a large banking firm declared a wine shortage is at hand, driven by a concurrent increase in consumption and a decrease in product on the market.
If true, it could mean you and your neighbor will soon enough be coming to blows over the last bottle on the shelf at the local spirits purveyor. But probably not, we hope.
What may well happen, however, is you'll be asked to shell out even more for your Pinot Grigio and Cabernet than you already are. After all, it's hardly a stretch to imagine that, if wine supplies shrink, wine sellers will be eager indeed to raise prices. So think about stocking up before your friends beat you to it.