Unstructured Finance

Check Out Line: Appetite grows for food deals

thistractorCheck out what we’re hearing from top executives attending our Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago this week.

Kantar Retail Americas Chief Executive Ken Harris, a top industry consultant, said he sees a healthy appetite for strategic acquisitions in the food and grocery space this year as improving credit markets and a recovering U.S. economy tempt buyers.

“It’s not about making a big acquisition, but you’ll see some smart acquisitions starting to happen over the next six to 12 months,” said Harris, who advises food manufacturers and retailers on their business models and acquisition strategies.

Also in the basket:

Danone: U.S. yogurt consumption to double

Dr Pepper sees more than cash from Coke

Sanderson CEO still neutral on Russia

U.S. farm economies deteriorating-study

(Reuters photo)

Check Out Line: More dark clouds in retailing

sale1Check out more bad news in the retail sector.

U.S. retail sales slumped for the second straight month, coming in weaker than analysts had expected due to sluggish gasoline and electronic goods purchases. Meanwhile, U.S. foreclosure activity in April jumped to a record high, further pressuring home prices and making a recovery tougher.

Fashion company Liz Claiborne posted a deeper-than-expected quarterly loss as retail sales remained weak in the recession. The owner of Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand and Mexx labels is cutting jobs, scaling back expansion and offering more lower priced items to combat the slowdown.

Meanwhile, General Growth chose a company to provide its bankruptcy financing. The No. 2 U.S. mall owner filed for bankruptcy in April when it could not refinance its maturing loans due to tightness in the credit markets.

Soft drink sales fizzle

Are you drinking fewer soft drinks these days?  It appears many Americans are, with the volume of carbonateUSA/d soft drinks sold in the United States down 3 percent in 2008, according to Beverage Digest.

Last year’s fall, combined with smaller drops in the previous three years, means that the growth seen in 1997 through 2004 has been wiped out.  Coca-Cola and PepsiCo each lost a little bit of market share, while No. 3 player Dr Pepper Snapple saw its market share rise to 15.3 percent from 15 percent.  Coca-Cola is still the leader, with 42.7 percent of the market (down from 42.8 percent).  PepsiCo‘s got 30.8 percent (down from 31.1 percent).

The United States still has the highest per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks anywhere in the world, at 760 eight-ounce servings in 2008.  That’s 6,080 ounces for each person, or just over 506 cans of soda.

Check Out Line: Better than expected

Check out the trifecta of profits that topped Wall Street views.

Expectations have been pretty low for the consumer and retail sector given the tough economy, cash-strapped consumers and the overall funk in the market keeping shoppers away.

On Thursday, a few companies managed to beat expectations.  Is it a signal that things are finally picking up?

USA-HOLIDAYSALES/Best Buy‘s quarterly profit plunged 23 percent.  Still, adjusted results topped Wall Street estimates as the retailer said it got a boost from stronger-than-expected consumer demand.