News

Walmart 11th on Fortune’s “Most Admired” list

BY CSA STAFF

The March issue of Fortune contains the magazine’s annual ranking of the most admired companies and this year’s list shows Walmart slipped two spots from the prior year and now occupies the 11 position.

Those ranked ahead of Walmart on the list include top ranked Apple, followed by Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Southwest Airlines, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Amazon.com, FedEx, Microsoft and McDonald’s. Walmart was the highest ranked retailer on the list which also included, Nordstrom (21), Target (22), Costco (29), Best Buy (36), eBay (45) and Lowe’s (49).

To produce the list Fortune works with the Hay Group who starts with about 1,400 companies whose revenues exceed $10 billion. Hay Group sorts them by industry and selects the 15 largest for each international industry and the 10 largest for each U.S. industry. A total of 667 companies from 33 countries were surveyed. To create the 55 industry lists, Hay asks executives, directors, and analysts to rate companies in their own industry on nine criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. To arrive at the top 50 Most Admired Companies overall, the Hay Group asked 4,170 executives, directors, and securities analysts who responded to the industry surveys to select the 10 companies they admired most. They chose from a list made up of the companies that ranked in the top 25% in last year’s surveys, plus those that finished in the top 20% of their industry.

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FINANCE

Creditors object to Blockbuster’s plan to sell itself

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Some landlords, vendors and other unsecured creditors of Blockbuster are objecting to Blockbuster’s plan to sell itself because they fear they won’t be paid what they are owed, according to the Associated Press.

A hearing to approve the stalking horse bid and auction was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was postponed late Tuesday until March 10 while the judge considers the objections.

On Feb. 21, Blockbuster, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, agreed to be bought out of bankruptcy by a group of its debt holders for $290 million. The offer, from Cobalt Video Holdco LLC, is a "stalking horse" bid. It would open an auction process for other investors who could pay more.

The Cobalt group includes funds managed by Monarch Alternative Capital LP, Owl Creek Asset Management LP, Stonehill Capital Management LLC and Varde Partners. They all hold secured Blockbuster debt.

Investor Carl Icahn and his Icahn Partners LP could make a rival bid for the company, according to the report. Icahn was part of the group of investors, which also included all of the Cobalt bidders, that hold 80% of Blockbuster’s secured debt and supported the chain when it filed for bankruptcy protection in September.

On Monday, a committee of unsecured creditors filed an objection with the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District in New York stating that the original bankruptcy protection reorganization plan included $125 million in so-called debtor-in-possession financing that would help Blockbuster pay back its creditors. But if the stalking horse bid goes through they say creditors will be left in the lurch.

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FINANCE

Kroger Q4 profit up 9%

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati — Kroger Co. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income jumped 9.2% while sales rose 7.4%. It also announced that its board authorized a $1 billion stock repurchase plan.

Net income was $278.8 million, compared with $255.4 million in the year-ago period. Quarterly revenue rose to $19.9 billion, with same-store sales up 3.8%.

Kroger offered a cautious outlook for the current year, saying rising fuel costs are likely to take a bite out of household budgets.

Kroger said total sales rose 7.1% for the year. Excluding fuel, its sales rose 3.4%. Same-store sales rose 2.8% for the year, excluding fuel.

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