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Feb 23, 2014

Big consumer companies cut costs, Wall Street wants bolder steps

BOCA RATON, Florida (Reuters) – Investors are growing impatient with the makers of global brands like Cadbury chocolate, Campbell Soup and Tide laundry detergent, as these stalwart consumer products companies try to boost profits through cost cuts and brand makeovers while smaller rivals take risks and grab market share.

Organic and soy milk seller WhiteWave Foods Co (WWAV.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), privately owned yogurt maker Chobani Greek and Keurig coffee brewer seller Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc (GMCR.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) have shaken up their categories and chalked up enviable growth while big companies such as ConAgra Foods Inc (CAG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Danone S.A. (DANO.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and General Mills Inc (GIS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) struggle.

Feb 20, 2014

Avon bets Hispanics, smaller selection, price hikes can fix U.S. sales

NEW YORK/BOCA RATON, Fla (Reuters) – Avon Products Inc (AVP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) hopes higher prices, a growing Hispanic market and smaller selection of beauty products will help it reverse years of declines in U.S. sales, top executives said on Thursday.

The company’s North American sales have fallen by half since 2007, and last year, the size of its army of Avon Ladies sales representatives, shrank 15 percent.

Feb 19, 2014

Nespresso takes aim at Green Mountain’s Keurig with big-cup brewer

, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Nespresso is launching
a new single-serve coffee brewer that makes larger
American-sized portions, putting its Swiss parent Nestle
in direct competition with U.S. market leader Green
Mountain Coffee Roasters.

Nestle, the world’s largest food company, said on Wednesday
its new VertuoLine system will go on sale in the United States
and Canada this week. It will make larger cups of coffee as well
as the smaller espressos, popular in Europe, for which the brand
is already known.

Feb 18, 2014

Mondelez details margin progress amid investor pressure

BOCA RATON, Florida (Reuters) – Mondelez International Inc (MDLZ.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) sought on Tuesday to convince investors that it can increase profit margins in the coming years despite volatile emerging markets, days after a second activist investor disclosed a stake in the maker of Cadbury chocolate and Oreo cookies.

Mondelez reported a string of disappointing quarterly results since it was split from Kraft Foods Group (KRFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) in October 2012. Investors have called on the company to slash costs as the packaged food industry struggles to offset tepid global demand, volatile emerging market economies and changing consumer tastes.

Feb 13, 2014

Whole Foods says competition cooling sales, shares tumble

By Lisa Baertlein and Phil Wahba

(Reuters) – Competition is cooling Whole Foods Market Inc’s (WFM.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) red-hot run, and the largest U.S. organic and natural food retailer stunned investors on Wednesday by cutting its 2014 sales forecast for the second time in three months.

Shares in the chain dropped 7.4 percent to $51.35 in extended trading.

Whole Foods has for years defied the U.S. consumer spending slowdown that has sent Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Kroger Co (KR.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and other grocers scrambling to convince shoppers to spend more.

Feb 11, 2014

McDonald’s looking to heat up U.S. sales with breakfast, coffee

LOS ANGELES, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Raymond Tremblay, a loyal
McDonald’s Corp customer from Los Angeles, thinks the
fast-food chain sells tasty food at reasonable prices and he
cannot think of a quick fix that would help end the company’s
disappointing U.S. performance.

“I know it’s there and it’s always good,” Tremblay, 46,
said of McDonald’s. “Maybe we just kind of take it for granted.”

Feb 6, 2014

Coke’s bet on Green Mountain seen putting SodaStream into play

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) – Coca-Cola Co’s (KO.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) $1.3 billion investment in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc (GMCR.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) puts pressure on at-home soda leader SodaStream International Ltd (SODA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to bolster its position through a partnership or merger with the likes of a PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) or Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc (DPS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Coke’s deal to buy 10 percent of the popular Keurig one-cup coffee brewer and exclusively sell Coke products on its upcoming cold drink machine is fueling speculation that the world’s largest soda company could eventually buy the rest of Green Mountain, spurring other deals in the sector, analysts said.

Feb 5, 2014

Coca-Cola takes $1.25 billion stake in Green Mountain

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) – Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc, maker of the popular Keurig single-cup coffee brewer, said on Wednesday that the Coca-Cola Co (KO.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) had bought a 10 percent stake in it for $1.25 billion and would help launch Green Mountain’s planned cold drink machine.

Shares in Green Mountain (GMCR.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) soared 40.7 percent to $113.81 in extended trading, while those of its likely new rival, SodaStream International Ltd (SODA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), tumbled 10.6 percent to $32.01.

Feb 4, 2014

KFC parent Yum monitoring bird flu in China

Feb 4 (Reuters) – KFC parent Yum Brands Inc said it
is monitoring the return of bird flu in its top market of China,
and while it has not seen a meaningful impact on national sales,
hard hit areas have experienced some softening in demand.

“Same-store sales results haven’t been quite as strong in
some of the areas where reported cases of flu have been more
pronounced,” Yum Chief Financial Officer Patrick Grismer said on
Tuesday on a conference call with analysts.

Feb 3, 2014

KFC parent Yum says no bird flu hit to China sales

Feb 3 (Reuters) – KFC parent Yum Brands Inc on
Monday reaffirmed its 2014 profit and said a resurgent bird flu
in China had not hurt national sales in its top market.

Shares of Yum jumped 4.7 percent to $69.26 in after-hours
trading.

Yum forecast earnings per share growth of at least 20
percent for 2014. Many analysts had worried that the recent
return of bird flu, which helped hammer demand for chicken in
China last year, would hit Yum’s business hard.

    • About Lisa

      "Lisa writes about restaurants and grocery stores. She is based in Los Angeles and previously has covered computer software, Internet companies, video games, prescription drugs and municipal bonds."
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