Journalist, New York
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Apr 3, 2014

Liberty Media to slash stake in Barnes & Noble

By Phil Wahba and Siddharth Cavale

(Reuters) – John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp said on Thursday it has sold almost all of its stake in Barnes & Noble Inc, ending a nearly three-year bet that the struggling retailer would emerge as a dominant seller of e-books.

The sale of Liberty’s shares, expected to close April 8, means the departure of one of the bookseller’s biggest investors, as well as the exit of Liberty Media Chief Executive Greg Maffei, a respected dealmaker, from Barnes & Noble’s board.

Mar 31, 2014

Macy’s chief merchant named president in possible succession move

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Macy’s Inc (M.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Monday said it promoted its chief merchandising officer, Jeffrey Gennette, to president of the company, in a move that potentially positions him to become chief executive.

In addition to continuing to serve as the department store operator’s chief merchant, Gennette will take on marketing and e-commerce at Macy’s namesake chain, as well as manage Macy’s in-house brands, such as INC, which generate 20 percent of company revenue.

Mar 31, 2014

U.S. soda sales fall to lowest since 1995 -report

NEW YORK, March 31 (Reuters) – Americans cut back on
drinking carbonated soft drinks again last year with soda sales
reaching their lowest levels in nearly two decades, according to
a leading beverage industry newsletter.

Total sales volume fell 3 percent in 2013 to 8.9 billion
cases, the ninth straight year of decline and the lowest since
1995, according to Beverage Digest. Soda sales fell 1.2 percent
in 2012 and 1 percent in 2011. Each case is equal to 192 liquid

Mar 28, 2014

Vintage guitar market anxious for high notes at auction

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The market for vintage guitars is tuning up again after years of hitting flat notes.

Its comeback will be tested next week, when California-based collector Hank Risan puts 265 of his 700 guitars on the block in the biggest such auction in recent memory.

Mar 27, 2014

Wal-Mart sues Visa for $5 billion over card swipe fees

By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc this week sued Visa Inc for $5 billion, accusing the credit and debit card network of excessively high card swipe fees, several months after the retailer opted out of a class action settlement between merchants and Visa and MasterCard Inc.

Visa declined to comment on the suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is headquartered.

Mar 25, 2014

Fewer new generic drugs dent Walgreen profit

By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) – Walgreen Co (WAG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Tuesday reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as a slowdown in the introduction of higher-profit generic medicines and a milder flu season cut into its gross profit margin.

The operator of the largest U.S. drugstore chain said its profit also come under pressure from price cuts implemented to compete with rivals during a tough holiday season for retailers.

Mar 21, 2014

Nordstrom delaying Rack store openings in Canada until 2017

By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) – Nordstrom Inc JWN.N is postponing the opening of its discount Rack stores in Canada until 2017, to focus on the launch of its full-line department stores there, its first department stores abroad. The Seattle-based upscale retailer had initially planned to start opening Rack stores in Canada next year. But Nordstrom said on Friday it has its hands full preparing to open six Canadian department stores, starting with a location in Calgary this autumn, and with a five-year, $1 billion technology upgrade. “Given everything on our plate in both the U.S. and Canada and the complexity of it, we thought, let’s work on getting the (Canadian) full-line stores up and running to the best of our ability first,” Nordstrom spokeswoman Brooke White told Reuters. Nordstrom said altering its computer systems and distribution for its first international expansion was proving to be more complex than expected, despite the similarities between the U.S. and Canadian markets. The change in plans for Nordstrom comes soon after discount retailer Target Corp TGT.N reported a nearly $1 billion (U.S.) operating loss in Canada for 2013, with more losses forecast this year after a bungled entry there. Rack stores, which offer lower-priced designer merchandise made specifically for the chain as well as clearance items from the Nordstrom stores, have been key to Nordstrom’s results. Comparable sales at Rack rose 2.7 percent last year, compared with a 2.1 percent decrease at the full-line stores. Nordstrom estimates there is room for as many as 20 Rack stores in Canada and 10 full-line department stores. Nordstrom will face competition from fellow U.S. luxury chain Saks Fifth Avenue, which will open a store in downtown Toronto next year. Saks is part of Hudson’s Bay Co HBC.TO. The news of the Rack store delays was first reported by the Globe and Mail.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Mar 21, 2014

Tiffany gives cautious 2014 forecast

By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) – Tiffany & Co (TIF.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) struck a cautious note on Friday about 2014, giving a profit forecast that was below estimates despite its projection that net worldwide sales would rise by a high-single digit percentage this year.

The company, which has bet its growth on emerging markets such as China and Russia, is likely being conservative because of growing economic and political uncertainty in some markets, and still sluggish growth of its less expensive silver jewelry in the United States, analysts said.

Mar 20, 2014

Nike futures orders soar ahead of World Cup

By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) – Nike Inc (NKE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Thursday said that global orders for its merchandise soared heading into the World Cup soccer championship in Brazil this summer, sending shares up nearly 2 percent.

The maker of sports gear also reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by rising sales in China and an enormous jump in revenue in Western Europe, where it competes with Adidas AG (ADSGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Mar 19, 2014

Icahn calls on eBay to sell 20 percent of PayPal in an IPO

By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) – Activist investor Carl Icahn on Wednesday called on eBay Inc to sell 20 percent of its PayPal payments unit in an initial public offering, in his latest missive to shareholders.

Icahn in January called for eBay to hive off its fast growing PayPal business, arguing the unit is undervalued as part of eBay. EBay did not respond to a request for comment, but the company has repeatedly said both businesses are better off together.

    • About Phil

      "Phil Wahba joined Reuters in 2008 and has covered the exchanges, equity capital markets (IPOs), corporate bankruptcies and now covers retailers such as department stores and booksellers."
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