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Feb 20, 2015

McDonald’s pressured to hike pay as Wal-Mart raises, economy improves

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp and its franchisees may have few options but to begin raising hourly wages as an improving U.S. economy creates competition for good workers and as mega-employer Wal-Mart Stores Inc sets a higher bar on pay, according to labor experts.

The pressure comes at a particularly difficult time for the world’s biggest fast-food chain. McDonald’s and its roughly 3,000 U.S. franchisees are fighting to break a long streak of lackluster sales that has made it virtually impossible to boost prices on its famous hamburgers and french fries to cover higher labor costs.

Feb 14, 2015

McDonald’s needs to shake up board, union fund adviser says

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) – Union pension fund adviser CtW Investment Group on Friday demanded in a letter to key McDonald’s Corp directors that the struggling fast-food chain follow up its recent chief executive officer replacement with a turnover of its board.

The demand from CtW comes two weeks after McDonald’s announced that Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook would replace Don Thompson in the top job on March 1 and as unions have been seeking to organize fast-food workers and raise wages. The union pension funds that CtW advises hold a small percentage of McDonald’s outstanding shares that are worth $268 million.

Feb 11, 2015

Whole Foods sales accelerate, shares rise

Feb 11 (Reuters) – Whole Foods Market Inc on
Wednesday said same-store sales have accelerated, helped by
stronger consumer confidence and shoppers’ positive response to
the upscale grocer’s price cutting and its first national
advertising campaign.

Shares in the largest U.S. organic and natural food
supermarket were up 2.1 percent in extended trading after the
news helped ease fears that Whole Foods was losing market share
amid increased competition from specialty retailers Sprouts
Farmers Market Inc and Fresh Market Inc, as well
as mainstream retailers such as Kroger Co and Wal-Mart
Stores Inc.

Feb 9, 2015

McDonald’s January sales dragged down by China, Japan

Feb 9 (Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp on Monday reported
a steeper-than-expected drop in January sales at established
restaurants and pinned a big portion of the blame on the
after-effects of food safety scandals in China and Japan.

The world’s biggest fast-food chain said worldwide sales at
restaurants open at least 13 months fell 1.8 percent in January.
Analysts polled by Consensus Metrix were expecting a 1.2 percent

Feb 5, 2015

Dunkin’ Brands sales beat but CEO cautious on gas prices

Feb 5 (Reuters) – Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc reported
better-than-expected quarterly sales, helped by U.S. demand for
sandwiches and its newly launched dark roast coffee, though its
CEO expressed caution about whether lower gas prices will help

Gasoline prices have plunged 43 percent since June,
according to U.S. government data, leaving Americans with more
money for discretionary spending at Dunkin’, whose coffee and
doughnut shops mainly compete with fast-food rival McDonald’s

Feb 4, 2015

California says will appeal ruling making foie gras legal

LOS ANGELES, Feb 4 (Reuters) – California’s attorney general
on Wednesday filed notice that her office will appeal a federal
judge’s decision that overturned the state’s two-year ban on
sales of foie gras, a delicacy made from fatty duck and geese

California outlawed foie gras sales and production in 2004,
but the ban did not take effect until 2012. Proponents of the
ban say forced feeding of ducks and geese to enlarge their
livers amounts to animal cruelty.

Feb 4, 2015

Yum’s China sales fall less than expected, shares rise

Feb 4 (Reuters) – Yum Brands Inc, owner of KFC and
Pizza Hut, said on Wednesday that sales at established
restaurants in its biggest market China fell less than feared in
the fourth quarter as it fights to recover from a food scandal
involving a minor supplier, and its shares jumped 2.1 percent.

Same-restaurant sales in China, Yum’s No. 1 market for
revenue and profit, fell 16 percent for the quarter that ended
Dec. 27 on continued fallout from allegations that a former
supplier used expired meat.

Feb 4, 2015

Starbucks’ U.S. shops turn to coconuts as non-dairy demand soars

Feb 4 (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp said on Wednesday
that its 12,123 U.S. shops would begin offering coconut milk on
Feb. 17, as it seeks to keep pace with soaring demand for
non-dairy and non-soy milk alternatives.

Starbucks began offering soy milk in 1997. Consumer tastes
have since evolved, driving strong demand for other non-dairy
alternatives made from products such as coconuts, hemp, rice,
almonds and other nuts.

Feb 3, 2015

Chipotle restaurant sales growth slows, shares fall

Feb 3 (Reuters) – Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc on
Tuesday reported sales growth at established restaurants slowed
in the fourth quarter and slightly missed Wall Street’s
estimate, sending shares down more than 6 percent in after-hours

The fast-growing burrito chain known for antibiotic-free
meats and organic produce when available is the envy of the
restaurant industry. Its stock trades at a rich valuation and is
harshly punished when it fails to exceed Wall Street’s lofty

Jan 30, 2015

Burger chain Shake Shack sizzles in market debut

By Amrutha Gayathri and Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) – Shares of trendy hamburger chain Shake Shack Inc (SHAK.N: Quote, Profile, Research) soared as much as 150 percent in their first day of trading on Friday, valuing a company with only 63 restaurants at nearly $2 billion.

The sizzling debut follows the successful listing two months ago of Habit Restaurants Inc (HABT.O: Quote, Profile, Research), highlighting strong appetite for shares of companies serving up premium burgers. Other hot fast-casual restaurant debuts have been followed by stock swoons, including Noodles & Co (NDLS.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and sandwich maker Potbelly Corp (PBPB.O: Quote, Profile, Research).

    • 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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