Unstructured Finance

Liz Claiborne brand ends business in some European markets

November 30, 2007

apparel.jpgLiz Claiborne is pulling its namesake brand’s wholesale business from Germany, Sweden and Russia, the company said on Friday. The decision affects only the Liz Claiborne brand, which it had just begun to roll out in those markets, a company spokesperson told Reuters in an e-mailed statement.

King Corn director feels pinch from taking on industry

November 30, 2007

king-corn.jpgProducer and director Aaron Woolf’s new film “King Corn” has provoked a rich debate among moviegoers about the wisdom of U.S. farm subsidies, but taking on big corn was so difficult  it has left him poor. 

Eschew the Banal at Holiday! Adopt a Vampire Bat!

November 30, 2007

bat.jpgSo maybe you missed the doorbuster promotions, your family already has a Wii, or the emphasis on the material just doesn’t make your heart go pitter-pat. What then, come the holidays?
    
As the gift-giving days loom ever closer, a slew of organizations are touting non-traditional gifts, from adopting a lemur to jumping out of an airplane.
    
According to gift-giving company Excitations, 41 percent of consumers don’t even remember that amazing holiday gift you gave them last year. But maybe funding a Mexico City soccer league, cataract surgery in Ghana, or helping conservation efforts in Angola might not be so easily forgotten.
 
At the World Wildlife Fund, you can adopt a proboscis monkey, red-footed booby or Galapagos Island tortoise (and get a cute furry stuffed-animal equivalent). At Utah’s Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, you’ll be sure to find a wet-nosed dog, cat, bunny or even goat who needs to be sponsored (our personal feline favorites are the rotund Buddy Boy and the fanged Scooter). 
    
At http://www.changingthepresent.org, gift-givers can choose their favorite cause, from human rights to disaster relief and landmines. Choices include giving money to fund a cellphone for an African farmer, funding brain cancer research, paying for a child’s cleft palate surgery or helping homeless American veterans
    
Looking for something more hedonistic? Http://www.excitations.com offers the opportunity to drive a Formula 2000 race car, attend the NFL Player of the Year dinner, take a falconry excursion, or master the art of mixing through a cocktail master class for two.

Street, media ignore Sears progress – Lampert

November 30, 2007

lampert.jpgSears Holdings Chairman Edward Lampert apparently wasn’t happy with the media coverage an analyst comments following the retailer’s disappointing earnings report Thursday.
 
“While we were not pleased with these results, much of the commentary in the media and on Wall Street following the results ignores the strength of our company and the progress that we have made,” Lampert said.
 
Read the entire letter  and tell us if you agree or disagree.

URI, Cerberus saga–the update

November 30, 2007

For those following the United Rentals-Cerberus legal battle, the equipment rental company filed a motion for summary judgement last night, hoping a Delaware judge can quickly rule on the case.

Check Out Line: High-end earnings

November 30, 2007

tiffany.jpgCheck out earnings on the affluent side
 
J. Crew beat analysts estimates for the third quarter and posted a surprising 21 percent revenue increase.
 
The company said its focus on fashion for more affluent customers helped boost revenue.
 
And speaking of affluent, Tiffany came in  this morning with an 18 percent sales jump, helped by growth in most markets, even Japan, which had seen declining sales. Earnings also jumped, but largely on the gain from the sale of the jeweler’s flagship store in Japan.
 
An higher-end customer base seems to be working for the companies as a way to avoid the woes plaguing other retailers.
 
Tiffany is so far pleased with sales in the all-important November-December holiday season, though the vast majority of the holiday business is yet to come.
 
On the other end of the spending spectrum, Big Lots said it now expects same-store sales to fall in the holiday quarter. The close-out retailer had previously forecast a 1 percent to 3 percent increase.

Daily Briefing: $5 Billion Only Goes So Far

November 30, 2007

SPRINT LOGO ON DOOR OF NEW YORK CITY STORE.What is $5 billion to Sprint? The number-three U.S. mobile network turned down a cash-infusion offer from South Korea’s SK Telecom and Providence Equity, which reportedly included former Chairman Tim Donahue coming in as CEO as part of the package. Stanford Group analyst Michael Nelson says Sprint has major problems, but liquidity is not one of them.  The New York Times has a copy of the letter sent to Sprint detailing the offer:

Breaking up deals – who pays?

November 29, 2007

pay1.jpg

Who pays when a deal goes sour isn’t an easy subject to resolve.  Over the past few years, as these figures from Factset MergerMetrics show, its been a one-way trend for leveraged buyouts – the private equity firm foots the bill.

Where’s the Green Christmas?

November 29, 2007

This was suppposed to be the year of the “Green” Christmas.

Groups from consulting firm Deloitte to nonprofit environmental group Conservation International published surveys saying Americans were looking for eco-friendly gifts for the holiday season.tree1.jpg

Do Men and Women Shop on Mars and Venus?

November 29, 2007

shop.jpgWomen are from Nordstrom, men are from Sears. That’s according to a new study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School that found different priorities for men and women when it comes to shopping.
    
As this female reporter and avid shopper knows well, women are “happy to meander through sprawling clothing and accessory collections or detour through the shoe department,” according to the survey.
    
Men, on the other hand, are not as fun: “Men want to go to Sears, buy a specific tool and get out,” said Robert Price, a member of the advisory board of Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative.
    
The study, in conjunction with Toronto consulting firm the Verde Group, found that men’s interest in shopping has atrophied after years of being taken care of by women. And they seem to be annoyed more by parking. The top problem that rankled men, according to the survey, is “difficulty in finding parking close to the store’s entrance.”
    
Women, on the other hand, who represent 83 percent of U.S. consumer spending, are put off when they can’t find help in stores when needed, and value personal interaction with store employees more than men. And if staff make women shoppers feel important, so much the better, the survey found.
    
But ultimately, shopping strategies for men and women harken back to the cave.
    
“Women are gatherers. Men are hunters,” said Delia Passi of WomenCertified, a retail training organization that also worked on the study. “Women walk into a store and scan. Men look for a specific aisle.”