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Yahoo Finance talks with retired Home Depot Chairman and CEO Frank Blake about how leaders should be leading amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Dividends are one of the best benefits to being a shareholder, but finding a great dividend stock is no easy task. Does Target (TGT) have what it takes? Let's find out.
Office Depot (ODP) is offering same-day deliveries from about 1,100 namesake and OfficeMax stores. Also, the company is offering free in-store and curbside pickup, among other facilities.
Brittney Legowski had panic attacks in the Walmart bathrooms as Wisconsin consumers emptied shelves at the store where she was working. As millions of people have retreated to work from home in the face of Coronavirus, huge swaths of the workforce have no option but to continue with their daily routine, heading to warehouses, factories and supermarkets across the world in spite of the obvious risks. “I could understand if we did things like food or medical equipment, but we’re just doing trainers and tracksuits,” said an employee at a warehouse in the northern English town of Rochdale owned by JD Sports, one of the UK’s biggest sportswear chains.
Walmart (WMT) puts plans to sell off a major stake in its U.K. grocery unit, Asda on hold to efficiently manage its business during the coronavirus outbreak.
(Bloomberg) -- With milk prices plunging to lows that haven’t been seen in nearly four years, dairy cooperatives are dumping the product to curb an oversupply.While shoppers are clearing out milk cases at grocery stores, that’s not making up for the closings of restaurants and schools. U.S. cows are entering their most productive time of the year right now as the coronavirus is killing off a significant source of demand.Some dumping usually occurs during the U.S. spring, but this year it will be “even more aggressive,” said Alyssa Badger, director of operations at HighGround Dairy in Chicago.“There’s no way to offset how much loss we’re seeing with school closings and food-service demand in the form of cheese and butter, just because someone’s buying an extra gallon of milk,” Badger said.American dairy farmers have been suffering a wave of bankruptcies amid years of low milk prices, and with so many exiting -- Wisconsin alone was losing two to three dairy farms a day for the past three years -- the industry was just starting a recovery. The onset of the virus has put any such turnaround on hold.Benchmark Class III milk futures, a type that’s used in cheese-making, dropped below $13 per 100 pounds this week in Chicago, a low not seen since May 2016. Butter prices are crashing, with futures touching the weakest since 2012 amid swelling stockpiles. Cheese is at the lowest in a year.While Wisconsin dairy farmer Wayne Gajewski hasn’t yet resorted to dumping milk, supplies are backing up in local markets and prices have fallen below his cost of production. He’s hoping the federal government can buy some dairy products to distribute to those in need, and that the virus clears up soon.“We’re not used to the supply chain breaking down,” Gajewski, who has about 80 dairy cows, said by phone. “That’s my biggest concern.”Demand for dairy products initially surged due to consumers stocking up on staples. Grocers including Walmart temporarily limited how much milk customers could buy. The limits are currently not necessary for store shoppers, the company said on Friday.But with schools and restaurants closed, some milk and cheese products have no market. Kristen Coady, a spokeswoman for Dairy Farmers of America, said the group is trying “all possible avenues” including donation opportunities at food banks.And it’s not just dairy. Backed-up corn ethanol plants are shutting down in Iowa and Nebraska. Farmers in Florida are dumping yellow squash and zucchini.“There’s some similarities with squash and a milk cow,” said James Alderman, a vegetable farmer in Florida. “With squash, if we have 85-degree temperatures, it has to be picked every day or it will get too big and we can’t sell it. They are cutting the squash every day and throwing it on the ground.”Dumping shows how urgently farmers need help, said Grace Atherton, communications director at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “If people do have milk disposal, we are encouraging them to document that loss,” Atherton said by phone.The federal aid package to tackle the fallout from the coronavirus crisis includes $9.5 billion in assistance for farmers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Canceled OrdersAt Grassland Dairy in Wisconsin, orders started getting canceled in late March as eateries shut down or shifted just to takeout and delivery.“There’s just so much unknown out there on the food-service side,” said Trevor Wuethrich, president at the dairy maker. “I think a lot of our customers in the food-service sector have butter in storage. They’re saying, ‘you know what, let’s not order for a couple of weeks.’”Around half of butter and half of cheese is consumed at restaurants, said Matt Gould, editor at Dairy & Food Market Analyst Inc. Because so many eateries have closed, cheese manufacturers have either shuttered or are running on reduced schedules.Milk that would have gone into those plants are instead being pushed to butter and milk powder plants -- but those are now full, too, according to Gould. That leaves dumping as the only alternative.“With plants shut down and running at reduced schedules, there’s not enough homes for the milk,” Gould said.(Updates with details on milk-buying limits)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The novel coronavirus has capsized the lives of freelancers and self-employed workers who are trying to find financial stability.
COVID-19 derails economic activities worldwide. lululemon (LULU) extends store closures in certain regions until further notice and creates a fund to help employees.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Donald Trump wasn’t alone in hoping everyone’s lives could get back to normal by Easter weekend.Retailers’ decisions to furlough hundreds of thousands of U.S. retail workers this week underscore that store closures are set to go on for much longer than initially anticipated. Closings in many major markets around the world will remain in place through next weekend and beyond, wreaking havoc with the prime spring shopping season.Hennes & Mauritz AB said on Friday that net sales fell by 46% in March from the year earlier. It expects a loss in its second quarter. The extended closures will now affect crucial pre-Easter shopping period, worth about $25 billion to U.S. retailers, according to GlobalData. While people may still indulge in filling their children’s baskets with chocolate eggs to create some holiday cheer in this difficult time, crackdowns on even the smallest of gatherings mean they won’t be planning big fancy meals, nor refreshing their bunny-and-chick-themed decorations. What’s more, consumers can’t take advantage of the long holiday weekend in much of Europe to start shopping for the latest trends for summer. That’s a blow because it typically kicks off the period when consumers refresh their wardrobes, home decorations and gardens for the warmer months. If temperatures soar, that can normally set non-food retailers fair for the coming quarter. From there, people’s diaries would typically be chock full with weddings, graduations and parties, plenty of reasons to update one’s wardrobe. But the novel coronavirus has radically changed all of that, eliminating pretty much any reason to dress for success. It’s estimated that half of couples planning weddings in the U.S. this year are looking to postpone them, according to data from the Wedding Report. The graduation season has been thrown into question. More than 80 U.S. colleges and universities have either canceled, postponed or been turned their 2020 commencement ceremonies into virtual gatherings. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Nordstrom (@nordstrom) on Apr 2, 2020 at 5:40pm PDTThat means everything from floral dresses to pastel hued shoes may have to be offloaded. Discounting to clear unwanted stock means the crisis is likely to last well into the second quarter, and possibly beyond.There’s another reason why the impact on may be bigger than initially feared: Some online demand has evaporated. Retailers have to ensure workers processing internet orders observe strict social distancing rules. So far British online fashion group Asos Plc, which generated 13% of its sales from the U.S., has kept its warehouses in Atlanta, Berlin and the U.K. open, albeit with longer delivery times. But rival fashion chain Next Plc has stopped taking online orders while it reconfigures its distribution centers. This would be in line with its worst case scenario of the business being closed for four weeks, cutting full-year sales by 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion).No wonder store chains have shifted to cash preservation mode. H&M said it was taking a number of initiatives, from cutting working hours to seeking rent reductions, to try to cope. In the U.S., hundreds of thousands of staff are being temporarily laid off, with chains such as Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney Co., Kohl’s Corp. and Gap Inc. halting pay for much of their workforce while preserving some benefits. The longer the hiatus in consumer spending, the more likely that some retailers and restaurants just won’t open their doors again. Others may decide to radically cut down on their brick-and-mortar locations. U.S. department stores, already grappling with the shift to online and mostly lackluster product selections, look particularly challenged.But even companies that do emerge relatively unscathed could find recovery just as demanding. Consumers who have kept their jobs will likely be eager to splash out on holiday and work attire when they’re finally able to move about freely and go back to the office, purchases they can fund with money saved during lockdown on everything from gym memberships and dining out.The question is whether any pent up demand will be enough to alleviate lost sales from those who have been temporarily laid off, or worse, made redundant. Individuals in fear of losing their jobs, or being forced to take pay cuts, are likely to save more. So consumer-facing companies need to brace themselves for a long haul. It’s going to be some time before stores reopen, and even longer before they get back to any semblance of normality.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Walmart Inc. has put the sale of a majority stake in its U.K. grocery chain Asda on hold to focus management’s attention on running the business amid unprecedented spikes in demand driven by the coronavirus.The world’s biggest retailer has paused the sale process, people familiar with the decision said Thursday, and there’s no timetable for talks with bidders to restart. Walmart told Asda’s leadership in recent days to concentrate on day-to-day business instead, the people said. Stockpiling by Britons lifted U.K. grocery sales to a record in March, and supermarkets around the globe have had trouble keeping everyday essentials in stock.Private-equity firms Apollo Global Management Inc., Lone Star Funds and TDR Capital each submitted first-round offers for Asda last month and had been invited to join the next round of bidding, people familiar with the process said in mid-March, just a few days after the virus reached pandemic status. A deal for Asda could value the business at more than 7 billion pounds ($8.6 billion), according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.But the recent market turmoil has hampered financing for leveraged buyouts, forcing companies to put a number of bidding processes on hold. EQT AB is deferring the sale of IFS, a software maker valued at more than 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion), while Bridgepoint is postponing the sale of Iberian agrochemical business Rovensa, Bloomberg News reported this week. Air Liquide SA’s sale of its German disinfectants unit has also been hurt after private-equity suitors’ access to financing was curbed, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.Walmart has more than 630 Asda stores in Britain, a market it entered in 1999. In recent years Asda’s market share has been eroded by German discounters Aldi and Lidl, while traditional rivals like Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc have made big acquisitions to bolster their clout with suppliers.The pause in the sale process was first reported by CNBC.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Ron Johnson, who is the former CEO of J.C. Penney and architect of Apple's retail stores, gives his take on the future of department stores during coronavirus.
Nordstrom (JWN) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.
(Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart de Mexico has become the country’s rock during the deepening coronavirus crisis. It’s also the best performing local stock this year.Walmex is up 4% so far in 2020, bucking a global rout that has sent the benchmark Mexbol index down 22% and sparked concerns about an impending recession. Walmex has also outperformed parent Walmart Inc., which is down 3.8%.While Walmart in the U.S. faces aggressive competitors, Walmex dominates in Mexico, where it has 2,572 stores compared with just 810 for its closest rival Organizacion Soriana SAB. Its Great Value brand of products and low-income-oriented Bodega Aurrera stores are sought after by consumers, especially when times get tough, said Marisol Huerta, an analyst at Banco Ve Por Mas.After weeks of panic buying, the company is set to keep running even as much of Mexico shuts down under a national emergency declared Monday night. All together, that makes Walmex one of the country’s most defensive stocks, Huerta said in a telephone interview.“In times of crisis, when the people are looking at prices, Walmex is very attractive,” Huerta said. “It knows what the market and the consumer want.”Mexicans grew increasingly nervous in March watching the spike in coronavirus cases in Europe and the U.S. Stockpiling picked up, emptying shelves of sanitizing wipes and eggs -- even as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador downplayed the risks and told people to go out to eat, if they could afford it. Walmex said March 27 that it would remain open and was ready to face the crisis with “always low prices.”Help WantedPallets of tuna, crackers and mayonnaise were stacked near the checkouts of its big box and smaller supermarket formats. Elderly baggers were sent home. But the company said it is hiring 5,250 new employees across Mexico and Central America to meet rising demand.Walmex is also backed by one of the most developed online delivery networks in the country, Huerta said. While e-commerce is a tiny fraction of total sales, Huerta said online sales are getting a big boost as Mexicans increasingly hunker down at home, and that trend will continue.Itau BBA analyst Joaquin Ley said March same-store sales could be in the mid-to-high 20% range. At the same time, “panic purchases” could hurt profitability as consumers stock up on lower-margin staples over general merchandise, he said.“While we are aware that most stocks and indexes are trading at a material discount to historical averages, Walmex’s defensive nature in the current uncertain environment could prove supportive to the current valuation,” Ley said in a March 26 note where he raised his call on Walmex to market perform from underperform.The stock has 11 buy ratings, 11 holds and one sell, according to analysts tracked by Bloomberg.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Global markets sank Wednesday following a dire outlook from President Donald Trump on the outbreak in the United States late Tuesday, with the Dow opening down 900 points.
(Bloomberg) -- On Mar. 18, a laid-off customer-service representative for one of the airline companies attended an Amazon.com Inc. employee orientation in Dallas. He found himself packed into a room with about 70 other applicants, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder to watch a PowerPoint presentation about what it’s like to work for the online retailer. The man, who provided a smartphone photo to document his experience, said the event was exactly like one he attended last year for a seasonal holiday job with Amazon. In other words, there were no special precautions to keep attendees safe from the coronavirus. When the man raised concerns about the crowded conditions, he said an Amazon manager mocked him and a fellow recruit sneered.“They made jokes and told me to leave if I was unhappy,” he said, adding that one manager said Amazon’s operations were exempt from the rules because the company is considered an essential service. “They didn’t care one tiny bit.” The former customer rep took the job but still worries about getting sick. Amazon also ignored official social-distancing guidelines at mid-March events near Portland, Oregon, and in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to two applicants. A fourth person who attended an Amazon job fair in West Jefferson, Ohio, said she was sent home and asked to return another day because the gathering was too crowded, suggesting precautionary measures are in place at least at some events or Amazon is changing its practices.The absence of social distancing at Amazon hiring events recently made the rounds on social media. One user tweeted photos he said were taken at recent recruiting event in Los Angeles. Another complained on Twitter that the event she attended, where people were in close proximity on a line, wasn’t safe. She didn’t disclose the location. Bloomberg was unable to reach those people.In an emailed statement, Amazon said it has updated its recruiting practices to avoid large crowds and keep applicants safe, but it declined to say precisely when it made the change.“These situations occurred two weeks ago and we’ve since moved all new hire events and orientations to virtual platforms,” Amazon spokeswoman Lindsay Campbell said. “Any situation in which teams don’t follow social distancing guidelines are immediately investigated.”In its initial rush to hire 100,000 people to meet surging demand from customers fearful of visiting physical stores, Amazon dusted off its holiday season recruiting playbook: holding events with lines snaking through hallways and crowds packed into meeting rooms to watch videos, submit identification and fill out paperwork. The practices violate official Covid-19 safety guidelines, which include avoiding large gatherings and maintaining at least six feet of distance from others.Amazon is widely seen as an indispensable service amid the pandemic, providing such essentials as food, cleaning supplies and medicine. That hasn’t stopped critics from accusing the company of putting customers ahead of its warehouse workers. These employees aren’t simply handling essential goods but also processing returns and packing toys, clothes and cosmetics. As the outbreak spreads and more cases are confirmed among Amazon’s warehouse workforce, demonstrations and walkouts have erupted in the U.S. and Europe along with demands from lawmakers and regulators for the company to improve working conditions.On Monday, workers staged a walkout at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse, where three more cases were reported Tuesday evening; they called for the facility to be shut down for cleaning. Hours later, workers at a Chicago depot picketed outside their facility. And in Romulus, outside Detroit, on Wednesday, a group of Amazon employees lined the sidewalk of their warehouse, complaining about a lack of transparency from management and beseeching Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos to shut it down.Amazon has lauded the bravery of its workers delivering essentials during the crisis and said it’s protecting them through social distancing requirements and stepped-up cleaning.With the economy imploding, many Americans are willing to toil at an Amazon warehouse. Almost 4 in 10 would have difficulty covering a sudden $400 emergency expense, according to a survey on economic health released in May by the Federal Reserve, highlighting the precarious financial condition of many hourly workers living paycheck to paycheck. A record-breaking 3.3 million people filed jobless claims in the week ending March 21, and experts say unemployment could top 30 percent, five points higher than the Great Depression’s jobless peak.Amazon’s March 16 announcement that it would be hiring and boosting pay represents a lifeline to thousands of people who have lost their livelihoods in the travel, leisure and hospitality industries. “There are very few jobs right now, and millions of people are going to want them,” said Fred Goff, who runs Jobcase, a job search and networking site for hourly workers. “Amazon was ahead of the curve with $15 an hour and announced temporary raises. They’re not going to have a problem hiring people.”Vancouver, Washington, resident Robin Guyton, 62, is among them. She had part-time jobs bringing developmentally disabled people on outings to shopping malls and bowling alleys, but her hours were sharply reduced since everyone has to stay home. Amazon beckoned with warehouse work that pays up to $20 an hour and health benefits. She attended a hiring event near Portland in March and accepted a job offer that day.“It’s a big company and in times like this, their services are more in demand, so there’s some job security,” she said. “This whole thing took the wind out of my sails, and I just need a job to pay the bills.”Good pay, benefits and job security outweighed her alarm about the crowded job event, where she said people were packed side-by-side at tables to fill out online applications on shared computers that weren’t cleaned between uses.“I was so stunned, but I was so desperate to get the job I just did what I could by staying as far away from people as I could,” she said.Walmart Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp., Kroger Co. and CVS Health Corp. are all also ramping up recruitment to meet surging demand for essential supplies. Some have sped up hiring practices by offering virtual interviews and forgoing drug and background checks, reducing the need to pack people into big job fairs.Walmart, which is hiring 150,000 people, compressed its hiring process from approximately two weeks to just 24 hours and is giving verbal offers by phone following online assessments. Other companies like Kroger use online platforms to check the identification of applicants so a bunch of new workers don’t have to attend big events to go through government-required ID verification, said Julie Pearl, co-founder of Tracker Corp., one of several companies that provide a remote ID checking service.One speed bump for the companies hiring is a new stimulus package that includes enhanced unemployment benefits that could give some workers pause about taking grocery clerk, warehouse or delivery jobs that they think are too risky during the outbreak, said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.“There are a lot of people with low or average pay who will find that their income when they are laid off will rise, not fall, as a result of the special unemployment benefits,” he said.Amazon could be taking steps to make some hiring events safer for applicants. One woman, who previously worked with people with disabilities, applied for an Amazon warehouse job and said she and about 20 other applicants were sent home from a hiring event in West Jefferson, Ohio, on March 21 because it was too crowded and asked to return another day.She returned three days later to find a much smaller group of about 25 people and some seats were roped off. The orientation was shortened by two hours to limit time people spent near each other, said the woman, who was between jobs when she heard an advertisement that Amazon was hiring.The warehouse manager where she works has been sending daily emails reminding employees of the importance of their jobs in keeping essential goods moving during the pandemic, she said, and hand sanitizer was available throughout the facility during her first week on the job. (Updates with worker protests.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Buckle (BKE) plans to furlough employees from Apr 5 and extend store closures for an indefinite time span as part of the coronavirus battle.