SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Strong growth in ad sales on Google search and YouTube were not enough to offset a surge in costs at parent Alphabet Inc that shrank the first-quarter operating margin, leaving shares flat after hours on Monday. Alphabet got a boost from how it values investments […]
Retail woes force hundreds of store closures
Nearly 650 shops and restaurants, run by a handful of major chains, have shut since the start of 2018 or are at risk of closure. Maplin and Toys R Us sites account for half that total, according to analysis by BBC 5 Live’s Wake Up to Money. Both chains fell into administration on the same day in February. The remaining Toys R Us stores will close on Tuesday, when the American chain finally disappears from the UK’s retail parks and high streets.
The veggie burger that bleeds when you cut it
The meat industry is a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions and deforestation, and a huge consumer of water. But can lab-grown veggie alternatives wean us off our addiction to red meat? Silicon Valley tech companies are betting on it. Evan McCormack, 19, is staring a big juicy burger on his plate at a local cafe. It looks like meat. It smells like meat. It even bleeds like meat. But it’s not.
“I like how juicy and crunchy it is, compared to a lot of other veggie burgers,” he says. “I think the texture is a big part of it.”
Made from ingredients such as wheat, coconut oil and potatoes by Impossible Foods in Silicon Valley, this burger might even fool his meat-loving friends at college, he believes. The firm’s chief executive Pat Brown has ambitious plans to replace animals completely as “a food production technology” by 2035.
Newell, Starboard end proxy fight with Icahn’s backing
(Reuters) – Consumer products maker Newell Brands Inc (NWL.N) and hedge fund Starboard Value LP have agreed to end a months-long proxy fight through a deal brokered by fellow activist investor Carl Icahn that will add three new independent directors to the board.
Icahn, who has amassed a nearly 7 percent stake in the Sharpie maker, said on Monday he agreed to give up two of the four seats he secured last month to pave the way for the addition of two new independent directors, Gerardo Lopez and Robert Steele, to Newell’s board. In a combined statement, Newell and Icahn said they also planned to nominate Bridget Ryan Berman, a Starboard nominee, for election to the board at the company’s 2018 annual meeting.
Wells Fargo CEO’s pay details spark pushback by some employees
WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co’s (WFC.N) disclosure of how its chief executive’s pay compares to the rest of its workforce has drawn criticism from some company employees ahead of the scandal-plagued bank’s annual shareholder meeting. More than a dozen employees made posts criticizing pay details the bank released in March, according to comments on an internal communications website seen by Reuters. Separately, a worker advocacy group said it plans to raise pay issues on Tuesday at the shareholder meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.
Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan earned $17.6 million for 2017, according to its proxy filing, an estimated 291 times the median of the annual total compensation of all the bank’s workers. It is easy for Sloan to be optimistic about the future of the bank considering he is collecting a raise “on an already enormous salary,” wrote Vernes Rasidkadic, who left a job at Wells Fargo in Omaha, Nebraska, shortly after posting comments in mid-March. Rasidkadic told Reuters he stands by his posted comments.
U.S. home sales increase strongly; inventory remains tight
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. home sales increased for a second straight month in March amid a rebound in activity in the Northeast and Midwest regions, but a dearth of houses on the market and higher prices remain headwinds as the spring selling season kicks off. The supply squeeze is expected to ease somewhat later this year as data last week showed the stock of housing under construction rising in March to levels last seen in July 2007.
“Existing home sales look okay today with some clouds further out on the horizon from rising home prices and mortgage rates not enough to make us worry yet about the outlook this year,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.
The National Association of Realtors said on Monday that existing home sales rose 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 million units last month. The market for previously owned homes accounts for about 90 percent of U.S. home sales. Sales fell 1.2 percent year-on-year in March. Sales surged in the Northeast and Midwest, after being weighed down by bad weather in February, but fell in the South and the West. There is an acute shortage of homes, especially at the lower end of the market. According to the NAR, sales of houses priced below $100,000 dropped 21 percent in March from a year ago.
U.S. extends deadline for Rusal sanctions, aluminum prices dive
WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Monday gave American customers of Russia’s biggest aluminum producer more time to comply with sanctions, sending aluminum prices into a tailspin but lifting shares of the company, United Company Rusal Plc. Aluminum prices on the London Metal Exchange tumbled more than 8 percent after the U.S. Treasury Department announcement, which gives Rusal longer to sell off the large quantities of aluminum it had been stockpiling in the wake of sanctions as customers and traders avoided its product.
Shares in Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminum companies, rose 13 percent on the Moscow Exchange after the announcement. Earlier, Rusal had ended Hong Kong trading down 8.4 percent. Shares of its U.S. rival Alcoa Corp slid 13 percent in morning trading. Rusal and its major shareholder, Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, were sanctioned by Washington in response to what it called “malign activities” by Russia. The Treasury Department said the United States could provide sanctions relief if Deripaska ceded control of the company.
Safestyle UK: Bradford-based windows firm issues profits warning
A double-glazing windows and doors firm has announced the departure of its chairman amid warnings about the company’s profits. Safestyle UK, based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, said “aggressive” new competition in the market was eating into its customer base. It also pointed to declining consumer confidence. The company expected 2018 revenue and pre-tax profits to be “significantly below current market expectations”.
“The group has taken longer to rebuild its order intake to the rate previously anticipated, and has also experienced cost increases as management takes the necessary actions to address these challenges,” a company spokesperson said.
Safestyle UK said chairman Steve Halbert had resigned from its board with immediate effect. Peter Richardson, who has been appointed as his replacement, said: “I am now looking forward to working with the board and the executive team during what is a challenging period for the group as it undertakes a number of actions to emerge as a stronger, fitter, more agile business.”