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Hershey Rejects $23 Billion Acquisition Offer From Mondelez

Updated with additional details. Hershey's business may be looking too sweet to for one fellow food giant to ignore. Shares of the iconic chocolate maker were up 15% to $111.87 in afternoon trading Thursday following a report by The Wall Street Journal that fellow candy giant Mondelez  has made a $23 billion bid in cash and stock, or $107 a share, for the company. Shares of Mondelez were trading up 4.8% to $45.05 on Thursday.  Hershey confirmed the bid, but the company promptly rejected it, noting that its board determined that Mondelez's expression of interest provided no basis for further discussion. Hershey's rebuff could mean it is trying to secure a higher bid from Mondelez. According to an afternoon note by analysts at Stifel, Mondelez could bid end up bidding $120 to $130 to seal the deal for Hershey. A Hershey spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment. According to the WSJ, any acquisition of Hershey would have to be approved by the Hershey Trust, which holds 81% of the voting rights of the stock and 8.3% of outstanding shares, though Mondelez is prepared to work to win the trust's approval. But, the Hershey Trust has set a precedent of being unpredictable.  In 2002, the charitable trust that controls Hershey abandoned a $12.5 billion cash-and-stock offer from fellow candy-maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in the final stages of approval.   Wrigley's offer represented a generous 42% premium over Hershey's stock price at the time, and Hershey's auction also attracted a joint bid from Nestlé and Cadbury Schweppes. Wrigley went on to be acquired by Mars for $23 billion in 2008 in a deal that was financed by legendary investor Warren Buffett. And Cadbury was acquired by Kraft Foods, which split off its confectionery business into Mondelez in 2012. Here's a brief look at what may have attracted the maker of Chips Ahoy, Oreos and Cadbury, among many other well-known brands, to Hershey.  1. Hershey is reinventing its business. Hershey recently acquired "snacking chocolate" brand Barkthins. TheStreet recently sampled several versions of Barkthins and can confidently report they are absurdly addicting and have a much better nutrition profile than a regular dark chocolate bar. Further, Barkthins have gobbled up some prime shelf space at major retailers such as Walmart lately as they play into the broader consumer trend toward snacking. Barkthins joined another interesting acquisition made by Hershey of Krave beef jerky last year. Krave has some of the most innovative flavors in the premium beef jerky market, and similar to Barkthins is receiving prime shelf space at major retailers due to their snacking qualities. Mondelez may appreciate the diversification beyond core chocolate bars.  2. Core Hershey products are being reinvented. Walk down most candy aisles today and you're likely to come across two new snack mixes from Hershey's -- the Reese's snack mix (peanut butter cups mixed with nuts in a 2-ounce package size), and the Hershey's snack mix (mini-Hershey bars mixed with pretzel and almonds in resealable plastic containers). These new products make ridiculous amounts of sense in this new snacking-crazed world. Ultimately, it's good to see the creativity around a storied name such as Hershey, and likely has Mondelez optimistic on further innovations in the not-too-distant future. 3., Cost-cutting continues. Like Coca-Cola , General Mills  Kellogg  and other big-name food companies, Hershey has not been reluctant to wield the ax to improve profit margins and the flow of new innovations. The company recently increased its annual savings target from cost-cutting to $100 million per year through 2019, from the previous $50 million to $70 million.  Mondelez may have confidence that under its umbrella, it could slash even more costs at Hershey, by, for instance saving on raw materials such as sugar and fuel.

Click to view a price quote on HSY.

Click to research the Food & Beverage industry.
Thu, 30 Jun 2016 18:43 GMT

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Tiger Woods Is Falling Apart and so Is Nike Golf

With a surgically repaired back keeping golf's biggest spectacle Tiger Woods off the links, the Nike golf business he once put on that back is struggling. Nike reported this week that sales at its golf business plunged 8% to $706 million for the fiscal year ended May 31. Excluding the impact of the strong U.S. dollar, sales dropped 6% from the prior year. It was the worst-performing business for Nike in terms of sales last fiscal year. Weak sales for Nike golf -- which represents about 3% of total sales for the apparel and footwear giant -- has now become a recurring theme in recent years with the injury prone Woods being spotted less in riveting final rounds of PGA Tour events and other Nike product endorser Rory Mcllroy lacking the star-power of Woods. Sales for the Nike golf division fell 2% to $771 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2015. Excluding the impact of the strong U.S. dollar, sales were unchanged from the prior year. Nike golf didn't light up it up on the sales line the year before, either. Nike's golf division saw sales relatively unchanged at $792 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2014. Excluding the impact of the strong U.S. dollar, sales rose a meager 1%. Adding insult to injury for Nike here? People are back out playing more rounds of golf, which is spurring sales of new drivers, shoes and irons.  Earlier this year the National Golf Foundation reported, for the first time since 2012, the number of golf rounds played in the United States increased in 2015. Helped by a warmer than average winter, golf rounds played increased 5.5% in the first three months of 2016, according to Golf Datatech. In March alone, rounds played boomed by 13.2%. "Some brands came out with some really great product that captured the imagination of the golfer," said Dick's Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack on a May 19 call with analysts. Stack praised all of the big names in golf product manufacturing but Nike for their latest innovations. "Taylor Made with the M1 and the M2 [drivers and irons], Callaway with the Great Big Bertha [driver], and there has been some new shoe designs out from FootJoy -- so, there has been some good products out there." Adidas is on the comeback trail not only in the sneaker business, but also in golf.  Same-store sales for Dick's Golf Galaxy chain rose 1.7% in the first quarter, while the golf business inside of Dick's stores did slightly better, according to the company.  One brand in particular may be hurting Nike golf at the moment: Adidas. According to Adidas, its Taylormade equipment brand returned to growth in the first quarter with sales up 6% from the prior year. Adidas credited momentum behind metal woods and irons. In addition, Adidas said sales for its broader golf business also increased during the quarter, driven by high single digit growth in footwear. Adidas golf apparel and Taylormade equipment is used by number one ranked golfer, and this year's U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson and number two ranked golfer in the world Jason Day.  The trajectory of sales for Nike golf may not reverse in the near-term for several reasons. First, the harsh reality is that Woods may not play a single competitive tournament this year as he tries to recover from lower back surgery, meaning less face time on TV for Nike golf's biggest pitchman. Said Woods recently on the timetable for his return, "I just need to get to where, strength-wise, I can handle the workload of playing out here on a weekly basis, practicing after round, not having to go ice my back and all that kind of stuff -- I need to get to where I can play 18 holes out here and go to the range for an hour and work on my game," who then added, "Just not quite there yet.'' Not spotted at the summer Olympics: Nike's Rory Mcllroy Meanwhile, number-four-ranked golfer in the world Mcllroy has decided to skip the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro due to concerns about the Zika virus, while Woods will likely sit out due to injury. Under normal circumstances, Nike would be poised to have its shirts, golf balls and golf clubs used by Mcllroy and Woods plastered all over TV screens and social media feeds around the world. Now, that won't happen.  The company's other athlete endorsers for golf -- Paul Casey and Charl Schwartzel -- are lesser-known players who may not even appear at the Olympics based on their current world rankings. If they do, each lacks the ability to drive product sales in the same way as Mcllroy and Woods. Talk about a business being buried in the rough.

Click to view a price quote on DKS.

Click to research the Specialty Retail industry.
Thu, 30 Jun 2016 13:10 GMT

Jim Cramer -- Buy Some Constellation Brands Before, After Earnings

Constellation Brands  shares, at around $159, are on a momentum ride to the stars, up 12% so far this year and 37% over the past 52 weeks. That's why TheStreet's Jim Cramer is particularly interested in the beer, wine and spirits purveyor's earnings, expected Thursday before the open.  This is one of the few consumer packaged-goods companies out there growing sales at a double-digit rate, Cramer, co-manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, said Wednesday from the New York Stock Exchange.  The Modelo and Corona beer brands have really helped accelerate sales, he explained, as have Constellation's wine business and the recent acquisition of a craft beer company.  Here's a tip, he said: The stock tends to initially trade lower after earnings. Investors who want to be long Constellation should consider buying half a position before the results are released and half after the company reports, Cramer advised.  Shares are up nearly 40% over the past 12 months and a whopping 666% over the past five years. 

Click to view a price quote on STZ.

Click to research the Food & Beverage industry.
Wed, 29 Jun 2016 15:49 GMT

Chipotle Does Something It's Only Done Once Before in Its 23-Year History

Embattled Chipotle is hoping that a new menu item will help lure back in customers that have been reluctant to return because of a high-profile E.Coli outbreak and other health issues at the fast-casual giant last year. Chipotle will introduce spicy chorizo, which traditionally is made from seasoned pork but in Chipotle's version will include white meat chicken -- starting Wednesday at restaurants in Columbus, Ohio; New York City (Manhattan locations); Sacramento and San Diego, Calif.; one location in Denver, Colorado; and at Dulles International Airport in the Washington, DC area. The company expects to expand chorizo to all of its U.S. restaurants this fall. The fast-casual chain had previously tested chorizo in markets such as Kansas City back in June 2015. "It was very popular, it quickly became customers'... favorite protein," said Chipotle Founder and co-CEO Steve Ells on an Apr. 26 call with analysts when he teased the upcoming launch.   Chipotle's chorizo is made with a blend of pork and white-meat chicken and is seasoned with paprika, toasted cumin and chipotle peppers, according to the company. It will be cooked in each individual restaurant by searing it on a hot grill, and will be available in the company's burritos, tacos, burrito bowls and salads.   Historically, Chipotle has been reluctant to make any changes to its menu in the fear of upsetting customers and slowing up busy lines. In fact, it's only added one new food to its menu -- sofritas in 2014-- in its entire 23-year history.   This stands in marked contrast to many fast-food companies such as McDonald's  and Yum Brands' Taco Bell that routinely introduce new items to drum up publicity and buzz.   Chipotle has added new drinks from time to time, however. In April 2013, Chipotle debuted margaritas with Patrón Silver tequila, a more expensive offering compared to its "house" version. And more recently, the company debuted a new craft beverage program in its home market of Denver, Colorado.   But, with sales and traffic likely still sluggish, Chipotle may see little risk in betting that people will want to give its new chorizo a taste.   "Since we opened the first Chipotle 23 years ago, our menu has changed very little, and our focus has been on constantly improving the quality and taste of the food we serve," said Ells in a statement Wednesday, adding, "While we have never been opposed to changing our menu, we only do so when we think there's an opportunity to add something that is really unique but that fits within our overall menu, and where we can find ingredients that meet our high standards."   Chipotle's sales and stock price have been hammered by its health issues. During the first quarter of fiscal 2016, same-store sales plummeted by nearly 30%, and the company's stock has declined by almost 50% since last October.     And if customers don't want to visit Chipotle for chorizo, perhaps a new summer loyalty program will whet their appetite. Under the new program, which will be launched this Friday and could be extended beyond the summer, customers are rewarded for how many times they visit Chipotle and purchase a burrito or other entrée.   Customers will earn free meals after their fourth, eighth and eleventh entrée purchases each month. They can also earn additional rewards, such as free meals and catering, when they reach certain status levels.

Click to view a price quote on CMG.

Click to research the Leisure industry.
Wed, 29 Jun 2016 13:00 GMT

How to Trade Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics Now

Defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman did not experience major setbacks in reaction to Britain's decision to leave to European Union. The third major contractor, General Dynamics , took a minor hit. Based on this notion, military spending in the war to defeat ISIS appears to have trumped the adverse effects of the U.K. decision to leave the European Union. These three stocks began the year on Jim Cramer's list of 38 "anointed" stocks for 2016. This makes them important allocations to consider in a diversified investment portfolio. Cramer owns Lockheed in his Action Alerts PLUS portfolio. Cramer says this stock benefits from continued defense spending and also is known for its consistency in increasing dividend payouts.  Lockheed Martin is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells LMT? Learn more now. Let's take a look at the daily and weekly charts for these defense stocks and the guidelines on how to trade them. Here's the daily chart for General Dynamics.   Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith General Dynamics closed Tuesday at $133.94, down 2.7% year to date and up 10.1% above its Jan. 20 low of $121.61, but in correction territory 12.9% below its 52-week high of $153.76 set on Aug. 19. The horizontal lines are the Fibonacci retracement levels from the Aug. 19 high to the Jan. 20 low. The stock set its 2016 high of $147.16 on May 17, well above the 61.8% retracement of $141.49. The stock was below this retracement on June 21 before the "Brexit" vote. The stock closed below the 50% retracement of $137.68 on June 24 and after a low of $132.68 on Monday closed Tuesday above its 38.2% of $133.88. Here's the weekly chart for General Dynamics. Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith The weekly chart for General Dynamics has been negative since the week of June 17 with the stock below its key weekly moving average of $138.38 but well above the 200-week simple moving average of $112.32. The weekly momentum reading is projected to decline to 56.62 this week down from 67.21 on June 24. The weekly chart shows a red line through the weekly price bars is the key weekly moving average (a 5-week modified moving average). The green line is the 200-week simple moving average considered the "reversion to the mean". The study in red along the bottom of the chart is weekly momentum (a 12x3x3 weekly slow stochastic), which scales between 00.00 and 100.00, where readings above 80.00 indicates overbought and readings below 20.00 indicates oversold. A negative weekly chart shows the stock below its key weekly moving average with weekly momentum declining below 80.00 in a trend towards 20.00. Investors looking to buy General Dynamics should do so on weakness to $101.63 and $97.74, which are key levels on technical charts until the end of 2016. Investors looking to reduce holdings should consider selling strength to $141.39, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of this week. Here's the daily chart for Lockheed Martin.   Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith Lockheed Martin closed Tuesday at $240.91, up 10.9% year to date and up 20.2% since setting its Jan. 26 low of $200.47. The stock set an all-time high of $245.37 on May 12. The stock has been above a "golden cross" since July 24, 2015 when the stock closed at $201.04. A "golden cross" occurs then the 50-day simple moving average rises above its 200-day simple moving average and indicates that higher prices lie ahead. The stock simply traded back and forth around its 50-day simple moving average of $237.77 in reaction to the Brexit vote. Here's the weekly chart for Lockheed Martin. Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith The weekly chart for Lockheed Martin is neutral with the stock above its key weekly moving average of $237.77 and well above the 200-week simple moving average of $164.20. The stock has been above its 200-week since the week of Jan. 20, 2012 when the average was $81.10. The weekly momentum reading is projected to decline to 78.95 this week down from 80.93 on June 24 moving below the overbought threshold of 80.00. Investors looking to buy Lockheed Martin should consider doing so on weakness to $156.53, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2016. Investors looking to reduce holdings should consider selling strength to $247.40, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of this week. Here's the daily chart for Northrop Grumman.   Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith Northrop Grumman closed Tuesday at $200.75, up 14.5% year to date and up 23.5% above its Jan. 28 low of $175.00. The stock set its all-time high of $218.84 on May 12. The stock has been above a "golden cross" since April 18, 2013 when the stock closed at $69.87. A "golden cross" occurs then the 50-day simple moving average rises above its 200-day simple moving average and indicates that higher prices lie ahead. The stock simply traded back and forth around its 50-day simple moving average of $212.39 in reaction to the "Brexit" vote. Here's the weekly chart for Northrop Grumman. Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith The weekly chart for Northrop Grumman has been is positive but overbought since the week of Feb. 19 with the stock above its key weekly moving average of $212.59 and well above the 200-week simple moving average of $131.42. The last test of the 200-week occurred during the week of Nov. 25, 2011, when the average was $54.18. The weekly momentum reading is projected to end the week at 83.80 slipping from 86.10 on June 24 with both readings above the overbought threshold of 80.00. Investors looking to buy Northrop Grumman should consider doing so on weakness to $132.21, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2016. Investors looking to reduce holdings should consider selling strength to $222.07, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of this week.

Click to view a price quote on LMT.

Click to research the Aerospace/Defense industry.
Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:57 GMT

Toyota to Recall 2.3 Million Cars on Glitches in Airbags, Emission Controls

Toyota Motor said it will recall a total 2.3 million vehicles installed with defective airbags and emission controls, adding to a slew of recalls by automakers and auto parts manufacturers worldwide. The Japanese company said on Wednesday it will recall its Prius, Prius PHV, and Lexus CT200h models installed with cracked airbag inflators that could explode once the temperature inside the car rose, as well as its Prius, Prius PHV, Prius a, SAI, Lexus CT200h, and Lexus HS250h models installed with emission control devices with risks of gasoline leakage. The number of cars with the airbag inflator defects totals over 743,000 units, while those with emission control defects total approximately 1.55 million, according to the automaker's disclosure. Other reports have suggested higher figures. The glitches were found for cars manufactured between 2009 and 2015. The automaker will start the recalls from Thursday. Toyota's recall adds to a series of similar actions taken by its counterparts in recent months. Mitsubishi Motors  in February recalled vehicles with improperly installed right-turn indicator switches, while in April, Nissan Motor recalled cars installed with air bags with risks of not deploying. Worldwide, automakers including Ford , BMW , and General Motors  that adopt defective airbags manufactured by Takata have also been forced to make recalls over the last two years. On Wednesday, Toyota also said that its global output, including those for separately listed subsidiaries Daihatsu  and Hino , advanced 11.1% year-on -year. Toyota on its own enjoyed growth for the first time in two months for its domestic production and for a third consecutive month overseas. Daihatsu shareholders on Wednesday approved a bid from Toyota for the outstanding 49.8% stake despite some dissent about the valuation. Toyota in January said it would offer 0.26 of a share per Diahatsu share, or about Y399 billion ($3.9 billion) at the time for the outstanding shares. The takeover is due to close on Aug. 1. Shares in Toyota closed up 2.9% in Tokyo. The automaker, which has a large operational base in the U.K., has lost nearly 11% since the close of June 23, the day the country's voters chose to leave the European Union. The company has reportedly warned it employees that a Brexit would cause major risks for its U.K. business.

Click to view a price quote on TM.

Click to research the Automotive industry.
Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:42 GMT

Under Armour Wants to Prove 3D-Printed Sneakers Aren't Just a Gimmick

Everyone thought that Under Armour's first 3D-printed sneaker released in March was a glorified marketing tool.  Guess again, as the red-hot footwear and apparel maker is about to prove it could be a potentially lucrative business. The company will launch its second 3D-printed sneaker -- likely in the training category -- by the end of the summer, a source close to the matter confirmed to TheStreet. That release may be followed by several others before the end of the year. "What you will see [this year] is an increase in the number of units, colors and styles in the Architect [Under Armour's 3D printed shoe line] platform this year," Under Armour president of product and innovation Kevin Haley told TheStreet at the opening Tuesday of UA Lighthouse, the company's new center for manufacturing and design innovation in its Baltimore, Md. backyard. Haley didn't deny that at some point in the future a Steph Curry basketball shoe -- one of UA's hottest endorsements -- could be made using 3D-printing technology. For now, however, the focus remains on training sneakers. Several Under Armour sneakers that were made using 3D printers. "The training shoe [we created] is phenomenally stable but also cushioned, which is often hard to achieve at the same time," said Haley. "The [3D-printed] lattice structure is allowing us to create the holy grail of a super stable but also cushioned [sneaker] -- I think it has legs in lots of different end uses."  Back in March, Under Armour unveiled a limited-edition 3D-printed training shoe called UA Architechs. It featured a 3D-printed midsole and upper design that enhances the fit for consumers and is more lightweight. The training shoe came together after a a two-year research and development process that involved the study of geometric shapes and structures to come up with the midsole design, according to Under Armour. Only 96 pairs of the UA Architechs were made. The price? A cool $300, which was light years removed from the mostly $85 running sneakers Under Armour sold when it entered the footwear space back in 2008. But consumers apparently weren't turned off by the price for a product that is lighter and fits better. Said Haley, "I think the original shoe launched in March sold out in 18 minutes, so we think the demand is there despite the $300 price point." Scientists at Under Armour's new manufacturing plant show off some 3D printing technology. Under Armour's new push into high-priced 3D printed sneakers -- at a time when rivals Nike and Adidas have no competing versions on the market-- could provide a nice boost to an already hot footwear business. Under Armour's footwear sales in the first quarter skyrocketed 64% year over year to $264 million. For 2015, footwear sales increased 57% to $678 million. Footwear now makes up about 17% of Under Armour's business. "3D printing is the future -- imagine walking into a store and 3D printing your own footwear from your favorite brand," pointed out sneaker expert Clyde Edwards. "3D printing is not a gimmick," remarked one of the scientists guiding a tour of UA Lighthouse. He could well be right.

Click to view a price quote on UA.

Click to research the Consumer Non-Durables industry.
Tue, 28 Jun 2016 19:32 GMT

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