FINANCE

Hedge fund cuts Penney investment by nearly half

BY Dan Berthiaume

Plano, Texas – Financial woes continue to plague embattled J.C. Penney Company as hedge fund Perry Capital cut its stake in the retailer by nearly half, selling nine million shares of Penney stock last week.

Perry Capital reduced its share of Penney stock to 3.3 % from about 7% after the sale, which followed Penney’s announcement it intended to raise as much as $900 million through an equity offering of new stock. Perry Capital purchased 12 million shares of Penney stock this past summer, suggesting a change in how the company views Penney’s chances of survival

Perry Capital hedge fund manager Richard Perry sided with fellow hedge fund manager William Ackman, formerly the biggest single shareholder of Penney stock, in his publicized and ultimately failed battle to oust Penney CEO Mike Ullman.

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NRF: Mobile devices account for more than half of retail web time

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. — More than half (55%) of all retail-related Internet time in June 2013 originated on smartphones and tablet devices combined, compared with just 45% originating from desktop devices. According to a report produced in partnership by the National Retail Federation (NRF) with comScore and The Partnering Group and released at Shop.org’s Annual Summit, smartphone Internet usage in June 2013 totaled 44% of retail Internet minutes, up from 17%in June 2010. Tablet internet usage accounted for 11% of total minutes on retail sites.

During second quarter 2013, m-commerce dollars totaled $4.7 billion or 8.6% of total U.S. e-commerce dollars that quarter. In addition, between second quarter 2012 and second quarter 2013, m-commerce grew 24%, compared to 16% growth in e-commerce as a whole.

"Since U.S. consumers now spend more than half of their time on retailers’ websites using their smartphones and tablets, mobile can’t be viewed simply as an ancillary device or action, it now epitomizes how consumers think and act when they interact with retailers,” said Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell. “Retailers have to continue to invest to make sure they get their mobile offerings right, or will increasingly risk alienating customers and leaving significant money on the table."

When it comes to popular mobile content categories, retail was one of the fastest-growing areas among consumers. From June 2012 to June 2013, retail grew 49% as a content category on smartphones, only behind beauty and fashion, home and lifestyle, and instant messaging services. As for in-store mobile activities, in the second quarter of this year nearly six-in-10 (57%) of smartphone users visited the same company’s site or app while in the store, compared to 43% who consulted another company’s site or app. The top reason consumers consulted the retailer’s or another company’s website or app was to view price differences.

Among those smartphone users who went to the same retailer’s site, 59% wanted to see if there was an online discount available. Similarly, among those who checked a different retailer’s site, 92% wanted to see if they could get a better deal on price. Smartphone owners also used their devices while in the store to take a picture of a product (23%), text or call family or friends about a product (17%), and send a picture of a product to family and friends (17%).

Additional highlights from the report that signal continued evolution in the marketplace:

  • One-third (35%) of smartphone owners in second quarter 2013 used their device to locate a store, one-quarter (24%) used it to find coupons and deals, and 19% used it to look up product availability.
  • Among consumers who made a purchase online in second quarter 2013, 69% of those purchases came from desktop devices, compared to 34% from tablets and 21% from smartphones.
  • The average spend in second quarter 2013 was higher on smartphones compared to tablets: shoppers spent an average of $97 on smartphones, compared to $76 on tablets.
  • Nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners in second quarter 2013 used a browser to research product features (64%), and more than half used a browser to find a store location (59%) and to find coupons/deals (53%). Seven-in-10 (72%) smartphone owners report using only apps to make shopping lists, as well as 46% who do so to view daily deals.
  • Apparel and accessories (37%) and event tickets (25%) were among the top products that smartphone shoppers bought with their device during second quarter 2013.
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J.Cathey says:
Oct-08-2013 10:13 pm

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FINANCE

Walgreens net earnings soar in Q4

BY Dan Berthiaume

Deerfield, Ill. – Net earnings for Walgreen Co. soared in both the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2013. Net earnings during the fourth quarter totaled $657 million, an 86.4% increase from $353 million in the same quarter a year ago, while net earnings for the full year rose 15.2% to $2.5 billion, from $2.1 billion.

Net sales for Walgreen Co. also rose in both the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2013. Net sales for the quarter grew 5.1% from about $17.1 billion to $17.9 billion, while net sales for the full year grew by 0.8% to $72.2 billion, from $71.6 billion.

Walgreens beat Wall Street projections for net earnings. The company cited success in its pharmacy business and Balance loyalty rewards program, partnerships with Alliance Boots and AmerisourceBergen, as well as cost control measures, as key drivers of its strong performance.

“Our solid results, especially in the latter part of the quarter, round out a year of steady progress on our long-term growth strategies to create a well experience, transform community pharmacy and establish an efficient global platform with our strategic partner Alliance Boots and with our long-term relationship with AmerisourceBergen,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson.

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