FINANCE

CVS Placed on CreditWatch

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Standard Poor’s Ratings Services said it placed its long-term ratings, including the “BBB+” long-term corporate credit rating, on CVS on CreditWatch with positive implications. The “A-2” short-term rating on the company was affirmed, though this rating was not placed on CreditWatch.

The CreditWatch action follows the chain drug retailer’s announcement that it has entered into a definitive agreement to merge with Caremark Rx. Under the terms of the agreement, Caremark shareholders will receive 1.67 shares of CVS for each share of Caremark. Pro forma for the transaction, CVS’ shareholders will own 54% of the combined company and Caremark’s shareholders will own 46%.

The new company will be called CVS/Caremark Corp. The transaction is subject to stockholder approvals from both companies as well as regulatory approval, and is expected to close in six to 12 months.

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Winn-Dixie to Add Medical Clinics

BY CSA STAFF

Jacksonville, Fla., Winn-Dixie is partnering with Wellspot Medical Clinics to add walk-in medical clinics to its supermarket chain, according to the Orlando Business Journal.The first three Wellspot walk-in-clinics will be in Winn-Dixie locations in Jacksonville, Fla., where the supermarket chain is based.

Plans call for additional Winn-Dixie/Wellspot clinics in the Jacksonville area early next year, with the partnership expanding into other Winn-Dixie stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana through the end of 2007.

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FINANCE

Internet to Influence 25% of Holiday Purchases

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C., The Internet will play a larger role than ever in holiday shopping this year, according to a new survey conducted for the National Retail Federation (NRF) by BIGresearch. Shoppers, who are expected to spend $791.10 each this year on holiday merchandise, said they will use the Internet for an average of one-fourth (28.9%) of their shopping.

Though nearly half (47.1%) of consumers plan to make at least one holiday purchase on line this year, up from 36.0% three years ago, many will also use the Internet to browse before heading to stores to buy. According to the survey, most consumers (88.7%) regularly or occasionally examine products on the Internet before buying in a store. When it comes to researching merchandise, electronics are the most popular searches. More than one-third of on-line shoppers (39.3%) said they have browsed for electronics on line before buying in a store within the last 90 days.

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