Category Archives: Companies

America’s Second Trillion Dollar Company Emerges

Jeff Bezos courtesy of
Steve Jurvetson

Coming just a bit more than one month after Apple became the first US publicly traded company to be valued at over $1 trillion, Amazon takes second place in the race to corporate hugeness.

Amazon entered the rarefied atmosphere of trillion-dollar companies when its stock rose 1.9 percent last Tuesday to a value of $2,050.50 per share, just 23 cents beyond what it needed to reach that magic trillion dollar point. The price of Amazon’s stock has climbed by 70 percent so far this year, continuing to explode along with other US stocks in the tech sector. The milestone was fleeting however, when the stock actually closed up only 1.3 percent, not enough to keep it beyond $1 trillion.

Amazon has been doing quite well lately, pulling past other tech major players such as Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and Microsoft. Alphabet’s valuation stands at about $840.3 billion, and Microsoft’s at $854.5 billion.

In 1994 Jeff Bezos founded Amazon as an on-line bookseller. The company grew quickly to become one of the US’ most influential companies. Based in Seattle, Amazon is a leader in e-commerce, but also is expanding to other markets such as cloud computing, home security and movie production. Only Walmart hires more people, and this year’s profit so far comes to $4.1 billion. Bezos is also the owner of the Washington Post.

Bezos is the world’s richest person. As a the major beneficiary of the skyrocketing stock price, as of Tuesday, Bezos’ worth is estimated to be $166 billion.

Hain Celestial Group Reaching for the Stars with New Leadership

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc, makers of Celestial Seasonings tea, Rudi’s Organic Bread;

Courtesy of Flickr

and many other products in the healthy eating niche, is about to name a new leader.

Its been two months since founder Irwin D. Simon announced his intention to leave is post as president and chief executive officer, and now he said that the board and he are about to complete the process of choosing the person who will take his place.

“I am confident now is the right time for a next generation of leadership, and I firmly believe that some of our greatest opportunities definitely lie ahead,” Mr. Simon said.

The first task of the new president will be to bring back growth to the US division, which the company is presently in the process of “proactively reshaping,” according to Gary W. Tickle, CEO of North America. The company has been, and will continue to cut back on its product portfolio to better focus on and invest in its basic 11 brands and top 500 stock-

keeping units in the USA.

“In 2018, we achieved incremental progress in certain areas of our business from our planned growth investments,” Mr. Tickle said. “Although in total, results for the fourth quarter were below our expectations, we’ve seen positive momentum building in our outlook on core distribution from our most recent round of customer line reviews. We already have confirmed 49,000 net new points of distribution for seven of our top brands across a broad range of retailers and channels. These transformation efforts take time to show tangible results, but these initiatives are translating into improvements in our measured channel numbers.”

Good News for Hedge Fund Managers

The hedge fund industry has taken some hits in the last couple of years.  One way this was experienced was through the significant depletion of profits of hedge fund managers’ in 2016.  But today, hedge funds are generally faring much better; hedge fund managers are once again enjoying better returns with greater investment gains and fewer are losing money.

Brahman Capital Corp is one example of this.

“At its apex around two years ago, Brahman managed more than $5 billion, as principals Mitchell Kuflik and Robert Sobel bet big on hedge-fund favorite Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. When Valeant’s stock plummeted from $257 to $14 a share, Brahman fell in turn, as the firm reported losses and investors pulled their money. Brahman sold Valeant stock last year and with what is now $3.8 billion of remaining cash pivoted to new ideas like a stake in travel company Expedia, people close to the firm said. This year, Brahman’s main fund is up 17%, the people said.”

More than successful returns, some hedge fund managers are finding that they want to find more hedge funds in which to invest.  This sentiment was echoed by APG Group NV hedge fund manager Ronald Wuijester who said:

“We would like to invest more in hedge funds and private equity but the very best of them virtually have no capacity to accept more of our money.  We don’t want to be on a gliding scale where we accept a lower return for the same amount of risk.”

Hedge funds are back.  Compared to 2016, today’s outlook for hedge fund managers is extremely positive.

Defunct Cambridge Analytica Under Investigation by Justice and CIA

The New York Times is reporting that the FBI and the US Justice Department are investigating the out-of-business political data company Cambridge Analytica. The company was recently implicated in a scandal over how it used the information it mined from Facebook users, bringing into question any ties it may have had with Russian agents engaged in meddling in the US elections.

Prosecutors from the US government have been questioning former employees and banks associated with Cambridge Analytica, said the Times, citing an American official and others familiar with the investigation.

The company already announced its intention to close by the end of this month since it lost many clients and faced growing legal fees as a result of reports that the company had taken personal data about millions of Facebook users without their knowledge, as far back as 2014.

The company is being accused of using the data of about 87 million Facebook users improperly. Cambridge Analytica was hired by the now President Trump’s 2016 election campaign. As a result several investigation were launched in the US and also in Europe.

Smyth Toys Buys European Divisions of Toys ‘R’ Us

 

Toys R Us Quioccasin Rd Richmond, VA. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Smyth Toys, a company based in Galway, Ireland, has agreed to purchase some of the European divisions of Toys ‘R’ Us. This is Smyth’s first time selling on the mainland of Europe. When the deal is implemented Smyth will run 93 brick and mortar shops and four online stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The buyer was found by Lazard, an investment bank, which was employed to look for buyers for Toys ‘R’ Us international subsidiaries after the giant US retailer filed for bankruptcy in March.

Smyths was founded in County Mayo and is owned by four brothers from Galway; Tommie, Tony, Liam and Padraig Smyth. The brothers own 21 stores in the Republic of Ireland and an additional 90 or so in Britain and Northern Ireland. The company has been growing quickly since 2007 when it entered the UK market, and is planning on opening more shops in Luton and Dundee in the near future.

Toys ‘R’ Us announced in January that it was going to close about 20% of its US stores as part of its strategy to come out of one of the largest in history bankruptcies by a specialty retailer. The plan did not work out and the Toys ‘R’ Us subsidiary in Britain was forced to close all 100 shops after not finding a buyer.

A bid was made on the Canadian division of the toy retailer by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $300 million.