FINANCE

Pershing Square to Hold Off Real Estate Talks With Target

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Pershing Square Capital Management said Monday it will hold off on discussions with the discount retailer on its proposal to spin off the company’s real estate holdings—a move Target has already dismissed—until early next year.

Pershing Square Capital Management, which owns just under 10% of Target’s common stock, first proposed in late October that the company should spinoff the land under its stores to create a tax-free publicly traded real estate investment trust to increase shareholder value. It offered a revised version of that plan on Wednesday.

However, on Friday, Target said it would not implement the plan and said the potential value it would create is “highly speculative.”

Investor William Ackman, who heads Pershing Square, said in a statement that Pershing “respectfully disagrees” with Target’s decision and will “pursue the matter in the new year, after the holiday season.”

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Cost Plus: customer count up despite comps decline

BY CSA STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. Cost Plus announced that net sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 were $213 million, a 0.8% decrease from the $214.6 million for the third quarter ended Nov. 3, 2007. The company said that despite a same-store sales decrease of 3.4%, customer count and conversion continued to increase for the third consecutive quarter.

The company reported a third quarter 2008 loss of $22.6 million from continuing operations before interest and taxes which was in the mid-range of its guidance and which compares to a $19.2 million loss for the third quarter of last year. Included in the third quarter of fiscal 2008 results was a $1.1 million asset impairment charge for five underperforming stores.

The Company expects same-store sales to decline in the range of negative 1% to negative 6% for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008. This is expected to result in net sales in the range of $356 million to $374 million.

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Duke named new president and ceo of Wal-Mart

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores announced that its board of directors has elected Mike Duke to succeed Lee Scott as president and ceo, effective Feb. 1, 2009. Duke was also elected to the company’s board of directors, effective immediately. Scott will continue serving as chairman of the executive committee of the board.

Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and ceo of Walmart U.S., will now assume the additional role of vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, effective immediately. His responsibilities will now include overseeing the company’s global procurement operation.

“This management change occurs at a time of strength and momentum for Wal- Mart,” said Rob Walton, chairman of the Wal-Mart board of directors. “Our overall management team has never been stronger. We are confident that the strategy we have in place is the right one for future success and Mike has been actively involved in developing and executing this strategy. We are also pleased that our succession and management development process continues to develop leaders internally.”

The company indicated that it plans to make an announcement on Duke’s successor as president of Wal-Mart International by the end of the fiscal year.

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