Unstructured Finance

EA Sports looking to score with new toy lines

easports12If you want your football or baseball to cheer for you after a great play, EA Sports has just the toys for you.

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EA Sports, a unit of Electronic Arts, is introducing its first line of products beyond the company’s popular video games, offering sports toys and equipment to appeal to the young sports lovers in the house. 

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The EA Sports-branded equipment, made by Toy Island, is rolling out now in Target and Toys “R” Us stores. Terms of the licensing deal were not disclosed.    

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“We’re expanding the brand to give young and future EA Sports fans a realistic and innovative experience in the real-world of sports, just as you can in the interactive world by playing an EA Sports video game,” EA Sports vice president Glenn Chin said in a statement.

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The products use infrared motion, touch sensors and voice command technologies. 

Check Out Line: Sales fall again

Check out the generally dismal sales in June, sprinkled with drops of hope.

rainy-us-openThe rain that hampered play at last month’s U.S. Open golf championship also pressured the retail industry.

Sales dropped at several U.S. chains as consumers stayed out of the rain and out of the stores.  Still, some of those focused on discounts once again reaped the rewards as those who did go out searched for deals.

TJX, which runs chains such as T.J. Maxx, raised its earnings outlook after sales at stores open at least a year rose 4 percent.  Analysts on average had expected those sales to fall 0.6 percent.

Check Out Line: At least Ackman outpolled most of his slate …

ackman1Check out the final tally from the contentious Target Corp annual meeting.

William Ackman had already lost the battle to seat his slate of director nominees on the Target board last month, but the retailer released the final vote totals and the activist shareholder came up far short in trying to win investor support, garnering 19 percent of the votes cast.  That topped the tally for three of his other four nominees.

The hedge fund director, whose Pershing Square Capital Management had a 7.8 percent stake in Target when votes were cast, launched his proxy contest in March to seat a slate of five director nominees after Target refused his proposal to spin off land under its stores into a real estate investment trust to boost its stock price. 

Former Starbucks CEO James Donald, one of Ackman’s five nominees, garnered 22 percent of the vote, while the other three each won 8 percent. All four of Target’s incumbent director nominees received more than 70 percent.

Check Out Line: Signs of brighter days ahead?

gaspumpCheck out hopeful signs that the recession may be abating.

While recent reports showed slumping sales at many big-box retailers, there are other signs that the economy may be bottoming.

U.S. retail sales rose in May and the number of workers who filed new applications for jobless benefits last week fell for the fourth straight week.

The Commerce Department today reported that U.S. retail sales rose 0.5 percent in May, thanks partly to gasoline sales that jumped 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to their lowest levels since Jan. 24.

Target investors shoot down Ackman

ackmantarget

When an activist investor comes to town, it appears that Target security goes on high alert.

While Target had its shareholders, including hedge fund manager William Ackman, and the media fly to one of its yet-unfinished stores outside of Milwaukee to attend their annual meeting, it greeted them with a heavy security detail.

From guards zooming around the parking lot on segway personal transporters to chase down wayward  parkers, to Target employees scanning shareholders with handheld metal dectors when they entered its stores, Target made it very clear it was in no mood for fun and games at its annual meeting.  

Check Out Line: The Thrilla in Waukesha

target1Check out the proxy battle royale going on at Target’s annual meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Activist investor William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management is fighting for seats on the board of retailer Target Corp.  Pershing has amassed a 7.8 percent stake in the retailer.

Shareholders at the company’s annual meeting also will decide whether the board should be 12 members, as Target wants, or expands to 13, as Ackman prefers.

Check Out Line: Ackman pledges to keep Target

DEALS/Lest anybody accuse Pershing Square Capital Management of running a proxy battle at Target Corp for a quick return, its head William Ackman pledged to keep his stake in the retailer for the greater of five years or the duration of his tenure on Target’s board, if he gets elected.

“As a commitment to Target shareholders and to reflect my confidence in the long-term value of the company, if I am elected to Target’s board of directors I pledge to keep that stake invested in Target,” Ackman said in a statement on Tuesday.

The outspoken hedge fund manager will square off against Target later this week at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Wisconsin. Pershing owns a 7.8 percent stake in Target and is seeking a board seat for himself and four other nominees.

Want that hot new video game? Make a reservation

indianaShoppers eager to secure a copy of the hottest new video game can soon walk into a Target store and pay $1 to reserve a copy ahead of its release.

Starting April 19, Target is launching a “reservation program” for what it expects will be the best selling video games.

That means shoppers can purchase a $1 reservation card in the electronics department of its stores.

Check Out Line: Weak economy keeps socking it to retailers

Check out the lower expectations in the retail world.

Discount retailer Target Corp rang up its fifth consecutive lower quarterly profit, suspended almost all of its share buyback program and cut capital spending plans as cash-strapped consumers shifted away from its trendy merchandise to staples like food and toiletries.

Meanwhile, Lowe’s Companies, the No. 2 home improvement retailer, posted a lower profit, but even worse cut its fourth-quarter profit forecast below Wall Street’s expectations, citing rising unemployment, falling home prices and tight credit as reasons homeowners are putting off some renovations and purchases.

Most economists say the U.S. economy is in recession and will shrink even faster in the fourth quarter. The news reflects the pressures consumers are under.

The bodegas are coming! The bodegas are coming!

tgtbodegaoutside2.JPGThe drink cooler is lined with linens. The fridge is stocked with jeans. The soup cans don designer labels.

It’s Target‘s take on the local New York City bodega as the discount retailer prepares to open four “Bullseye Bodegas” in Manhattan. 

Bloggers got a preview of the bodega on 57th Street in Manhattan, and the four temporary stores, which are scattered throughout the borough, will open to the public for four days starting on Sept. 12 at 10 am.

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