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from Breakingviews:

Duracell jolt highlights the value of focus at P&G

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Procter & Gamble’s Duracell jolt highlights the value of focus at the sprawling $225 billion consumer products giant. Investors were energized by the detergent-to-diapers behemoth’s plan to offload its batteries arm. Spinning off copper tops won’t create much value on its own. But it’s a solid plank in boss A.G. Lafley’s campaign to shed underperforming brands and simplify an unwieldy business.

P&G’s shares rose 3 percent on news of the battery exit, which will probably take the form of a spinoff to shareholders. The resulting $7 billion lift to P&G’s market value handily matches the price Gillette paid for the top U.S. battery brand in 1996. P&G inherited Duracell when it bought Gillette nine years later.

Duracell is unlikely to be worth that much as a stand-alone company. Analysts at Bernstein estimate the battery unit makes earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of about $580 million – or 3 percent of P&G’s forecast EBITDA for the fiscal year ending next June, according to estimates tracked by Thomson Reuters. On an enterprise multiple of seven times EBITDA - a steep discount to P&G’s 13 times EV/EBITDA, to reflect the fact that batteries are a mature, commodity product with few growth prospects - the business would be worth $4 billion.

from Breakingviews:

Amazon’s ambition outruns its cash flow

By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Amazon’s ambition is outrunning its cash flow. The online retailer’s 20 percent sales growth in its third quarter was slower than expected, and its $437 million loss was an ugly record. But it’s the firm’s voracious need for investment that is the bigger problem. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ vision may be limitless, but his company’s ability to finance it is not.

from Breakingviews:

Tesco fails to answer key strategy questions

By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Tesco has let a golden opportunity go begging. The UK grocer could have built confidence in its future with a bold statement of strategy alongside a key set of half-year numbers. It could have taken the first steps to recovery. Yet Tesco appears as mired as ever.

from Breakingviews:

Adidas can’t afford to be sentimental about Reebok

By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Unwinding the ill-fated acquisition of Reebok could offer a much-needed new start for German sportswear maker Adidas.

from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong weathers Occupy’s financial disruption

By Robyn Mak

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Hong Kong’s economy is coping with pro-democracy protests, now heading into their third week. Some retailers and other businesses have suffered and traffic is bad, but the city’s financial system is undisturbed. A prolonged standoff between protesters and the government matters less to investors than the slowdown in consumption and spending in mainland China. Warnings that the movement would threaten Hong Kong’s financial health look misplaced.

from Breakingviews:

Sears’ Canada stake sale merits a discount

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Eddie Lampert is at it again. Less than three weeks after the hedge fund world’s Icarus figure-turned-retail boss announced he would lend Sears Holdings $400 million, the struggling store chain has announced a plan to raise more cash by selling down its stake in a Canadian subsidiary through an uncommon operation.

from Breakingviews:

Rocket and Zalando call top of Europe’s IPO market

By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Highflying hopes of a renewed surge in European new issues have been hit by two rockets. Weak market debuts for internet fashion retailer Zalando and tech company incubator Rocket Internet appear to mark an early zenith for initial public offerings in the region.

from Edward Hadas:

In praise of restrained enterprise

By Edward Hadas

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

British supermarkets are doing something unusual. They are following the rules of textbook economics: responding to competition by cutting prices. Such behaviour is rare. While business bosses often say they admire free enterprise, we actually live in a restrained enterprise economy. Everyone should be grateful.

from Breakingviews:

PayPal forced to rev after eBay’s belated U-turn

By Rob Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

PayPal is compelled to accelerate after eBay’s belated U-turn. The $70 billion online auction company has for years resisted setting free its payments business, most recently digging in its heels against Carl Icahn’s demands to do so. Apple and Alibaba have created more urgency than investors, or Breakingviews, could. EBay squandered a big early advantage, but a spun-off PayPal may have a chance to play catch-up.

from Breakingviews:

UK retail fails to weather the patently obvious

By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Talking about the weather is a British national pastime. It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone living on an island in Europe’s north west fringe that it has been unseasonably warm in the last few weeks.

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