FINANCE

Report: Judge approves EBay antitrust settlement

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco – A federal judge has reportedly approved an antitrust settlement EBay reached in May 2012. The settlement relates to a secret deal EBay reached with tax preparation software provider Intuit in which the two companies agreed not to hire each other’s employees.

According to Reuters, the settlement calls for EBay to not make any deals with any other technology companies to avoid hiring each other’s employees.

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REAL ESTATE

Market Basket to open four to five stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Tewksbury, Mass. – The Market Basket supermarket chain is wasting no time in moving forward following its purchase by former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas for $1.5 billion on Aug. 28. According to the Boston Globe, Market Basket plans to open at least four new stores in Massachusetts the near future.

Cities slated for new Market Basket store openings reportedly include Revere, Attleboro, Littleton, and Athol, with Plymouth also under consideration. The Revere and Attleboro stores are scheduled to open by the end of 2014. Demoulas said that Market Basket will consider scaling back its new store openings from a planned four or five to two or three if that will help the company better manage the roughly $500 million in private equity debt which financed its recent purchase.

Demoulas was fired by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas in June 2014, leading to a six-week employee and customer boycott in July and August 2014 that severely reduced products available on Market Basket shelves as well as the company’s profits. Arthur T. retained ownership of 49.5% of the company upon being terminated as CEO, and bough the remaining shares from Arthur S. and allied family members. Market Basket currently operates 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

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FINANCE

Conn’s misses on Q2 profits; customer debt takes toll

BY Dan Berthiaume

The Woodlands, Texas – Conn’s Inc. missed Wall Street expectations for profits in the second quarter of fiscal 2015, as net income dropped 8% to $17.65 million from $19.16 million. In addition to charges related to facility closures, a significant increase in delinquent customer debt in the company’s credit segment negatively impacted net income results.

Meanwhile, total revenues soared 30% to $352.96 million from $270.69 million. Same-store sales rose 11.7%.

“Overall results were not satisfactory,” said Theodore M. Wright, chairman and CEO of Conn’s. “Our credit operations ran into unexpected headwinds, resulting in portfolio performance deterioration. Despite tighter underwriting, lower early-stage delinquency and improved collections staffing and execution, delinquency unexpectedly deteriorated across all credit quality levels, customer groups, product categories, geographic regions and years of origination. Tighter underwriting and better collections execution did not offset deterioration in our customer’s ability to resolve delinquency.”

In response to higher delinquency, Conn’s is further tightening its underwiriting and also reducing the level of no-interest programs and raising the interest rates in some markets to increase portfolio yield. As a result of increased bad customer debt, Conn’s reduced its fiscal 2015 earnings guidance while forecasting same-store sales growth of 5%-10%.

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