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Teradata to acquire Aster Data Systems

BY CSA STAFF

San Diego — Teradata Corp. signed a definitive agreement to acquire Aster Data Systems, a market leader and pioneer in advanced analytics and the management of a variety of diverse data that is not structured.

“We are excited about the big data analytics market opportunity that Aster Data brings to Teradata. This, coupled with our recent Integrated Marketing Management acquisition with Aprimo, and our increased investments into our core data warehouse business — provide three best-in-class platforms to fuel future growth for Teradata,” said Mike Koehler, president and CEO of Teradata Corp.

Teradata is acquiring Aster Data’s business, including its intellectual property and technology product line, through a merger transaction. Teradata plans to support Aster Data’s customers and integrate its employees immediately upon completion of the acquisition, which is expected to occur in second quarter 2011.

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Sam would be turning over in his grave

BY CSA STAFF

Reference to the posthumous gyrations of Walmart’s legendary founder Sam Walton were quite common in recent years as the company pursued a wide range of disruptive strategies in the name of Project Impact. You never had to look far to find someone with an opinion on how Walton would feel about some aspect of Walmart’s business, as the universe of those who profess to have some unique insight into his psyche is so large. Some used Walton’s legacy to support Project Impact because he was an advocate of change and swimming upstream, while others could shoot down the new direction embodied in the broad slate of initiatives because they were a deviation from core operating philosophies that made Walmart successful.

One thing that all can agree on is that Walton would find disturbing recurring reports of the minimal pricing gap between Walmart and Target. The most recent example involves a report from Kantar Retail that Target actually had lower prices than Walmart when prices were compared on a basket of 39 national brand edible, non-edible and health and beauty products at two stores in Massachusetts. Prices were said to be 2.8% lower at Target, and that’s not including the additional 5% discount that accrues to those who participate in the new REDcard Rewards loyalty program launched last fall.

Clearly, comparing prices on 39 items at two stores does not make for a methodologically sound study if it can even be called a study, but the Kantar data is another data point in a recurring theme documented by others.

Credit Suisse conducts a more rigorous pricing study on a monthly basis where it looks at stores in the Dallas and Chicago markets. Walmart consistently beat Target, but usually by a narrow margin, and in the latest iteration of the study Target was only 3.9% off of Walmart’s basket total. The firm noted that the price differential doesn’t take into account Target’s REDcard.

J.P. Morgan also conducts a regular pricing study in the Northeast where it looks primarily at food prices, and the results are similar with the gap between Walmart and Target being rather minimal and Target having a lower net price to shoppers who benefit from the 5% savings program.

This combination of a narrow pricing gap, something Target has long claimed existed, with a 5% loyalty program that Walmart doesn’t yet have an answer for, promises to become an increasingly prickly issue as 2011 wears on. Fuel and food prices, always sensitive issues for shoppers, will become even more so this year as inflation expectations now appear to be a given. Meanwhile, Target continues to aggressively remodel stores to expand its food and consumable offering while marketing a loyalty program regarded by many analysts who follow both companies as a game changer. Walmart may continue to have lower shelf edge prices, but without a more meaningful degree of separation it runs the risk of savings claims ringing hollow with shoppers, at least when it comes to Target.

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For what it’s worth

BY CSA STAFF

Thanks to the Internet, a lot of what passes for news these days is a report based on a report based on a report with few if any filters in place to verify the accuracy of information. With that qualification in mind, Bloomberg this week reported that Walmart’s market share in China declined to 7.5% in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to 8.2% in the second quarter. The news agency said its report was based on a report in the English language Shanghai Daily newspaper whose report was based on a report from a market research company identified as CTR.

The market-share decline is curious in light of comments regarding sales and traffic in China last week from Walmart International president and CEO Doug McMillon. He noted that sales in China in the fourth quarter grew by 9.6% and same-store sales increased 1.8%. The increase was driven by larger average transaction size, which grew by nearly 10% while customer traffic declined 7.2% as stores operating under the TrustMart banner converted to product assortment found in Walmart stores.

In addition, he said 45 of the 49 stores Walmart opened in China last year were supercenters and the company now operates 328 stores in China. That doesn’t sound like a formula for losing market share.

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