Way To Shop

The Cobble Hill location of American Apparel.

The Cobble Hill location of American Apparel.

In this retailer’s nightmare of a sales season, just getting the consumer in the front door of a store is considered a success.

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Still Somehow Bucking the Trend

Retailer American Apparel saw their same-store sales rise in November by 6%. The news made the company’s share price increase by 21 cents, or 6.4 percent, to $3.49 in afternoon trading on the Thursday this news was announced.

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Keybanc gives the OK

 c/o kristy bear Photography on flickr

c/o kristy bear Photography on flickr

Ah, there’s nothing quite like the approval of a stock analyst.  It can really send a thrill up your leg.  Especially when it translates into an immediate boost to share price, as was the case with Keybanc’s upgrade for Northwestern Corporation, from Hold to Buy, with a price target of $23.50.

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Northwestern makes nice

How’s this for a little “CSR” action–Northwestern Corporation just settled a tax dispute with Montana’s Department of revenue, and now they’re sharing the tax refund with their customers!

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Beer not recession-proof

Beer may be a resilient product, but it is not safe from the bleak economic scenery we’re experiencing these days.

In Russia, one of its biggest markets, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the recently formed beer company in a $52 billion takeover, will shut down a brewery for an indefinite period to cut costs as local growth weakens.

Production at the plant in the town of Pushkin, near St. Petersburg, will stop as of Dec. 15, the company announced.

In the last company’s conference call in October, Carlos Brito, ABInbev’s CEO mentioned that a “slight contraction” in first-half profit margins continued in the third quarter, and they forescast the cost of sales per hectoliter will be higher than expected after commodity prices rose.

One can only wonder if plants in the U.S. are next in line.

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Budweiser vs. Brahma

Olimar (left) and Fernando Marinho debate which beer is better: Budweiser or Brahma.

Olimar (left) and Fernando Marinho debate which beer is better: Budweiser or Brahma.

460 million hectoliters (1 hectoliter = 26.4 gallons) That is the production volume for the newly formed ABInbev – the largest brewer in the world, born from the merge of Inbev and Anheuser-Busch. But when it comes to beer, it’s not all about quantity, experts say, it’s a lot about the quality too.

Fernando and Olimar Marinho are two brothers and beer drinkers from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. They gave me their opinion on two brands of beer now owned by ABInbev – the Brazilian Brahma, and the American Budweiser.

“Budweiser is obviously the best beer. You will not find a more well-rounded, tasty, less-filling kind of beer. Anyone that advocates for Brahma is questionable at best, seriously,” says the younger brother Fernando, in his early 50’s. “And you can’t even say I’m not patriotic because now it’s ours!,” he adds.

Olimar, in his late 60s disagrees. “Brahma is better because of the hops and the water, which both come from local sources. Hops help to contribute a bitterness that will balance the sweetness of the malts. A lot of beer styles were influenced by the characteristics of water in the region.”

The Brazilian brewer Brahma was acquired by Jorge Lemann’s bank (he’s one of the Brazilians at the top at ABInbev) in 1989, and ten years later it bought it’s archrival Antarctica, forming AMBEV, the fifth largest brewer in the world at the time. AMBEV dominated the Brazilian market holding all three major brewers. After merging with the Belgian Interbrew in 2004, in a $11 billion deal, it became Inbev.

Both Fernando and Olimar say their beer guts worry them a bit. “I’d like to get rid of it,” said Fernando. “But if that means no more beer for me you can forget about it.”

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Friend Request to Mark Zuckerberg: Post CEO Don Graham

 

WP CEO Don Graham joins Facebook board.

WP CEO Don Graham joins Facebook board.

Washington Post CEO Don Graham made news late last week by agreeing to join Facebook’s board of directors, a symbolic gesture in some sense of a convergence between old and new media.  However, The Post is not necessarily Old Media, with its Slate, Big Money, and the Root properties, as well as the WP and Newsweek websites, but Graham’s addition to the Facebook board is still significant for media history.

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook, a former Harvard student who created Facebook with his roommates, and became what Forbes Magazine called “the youngest billionaire on Earth.”  Zuckerberg, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, and Netscape founder Marc Amdreessen currently sit on the board.

 

Facebook CEO: A New Friend for Washington Post?

Facebook CEO: A New Friend for Washington Post?

“Don Graham understands how to build and manage an organization for the long term,” said Zuckerberg. “He has made The Washington Post Company one of the most valued and respected education and media companies while making society more open and understanding. “

Simultaneously, Don Graham was all glowy about Facebook as well.  “Facebook has completely transformed how people interact by providing a compelling forum where millions and millions of people can connect and share,” said Graham. “Mark’s sense of what Facebook can do is quite remarkable.”

With Don Graham on Facebook’s board now, I just have one more question.  Hey, Bill Keller, are you next?

 

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Follow the leader…

It’s a rule of following the leader, even if the leader is lost. Starbucks competitors are following in its foot steps.

After expanding rapidly and opening offices far and near, Starbucks is in the process of closing stores. The CEO, Howard Schultz said this is partly because the company grew too fast.

However, it’s interesting to see that Starbucks competitors are following in its steps. Dunkin donuts has laid down a plan to open 15,000 stores in 13 years. Now, it has opened its first store in China, 149 more to follow.

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"A coal-fired powerplant of one's own"

If you buy electricity in Montana, all this is yours.... (c/o Darwinsbulldog on Flickr)

If you buy electricity in Montana, all this is yours.... (c/o Darwinsbulldog on Flickr)

For much of 2008, Northwestern Corporation was embroiled in a heated, fiery debate over the future of a coal-fired power plant, Colstrip 4.    But after a lot of hot air, Montana’s Public Service Commission approved the sale of a plant, which will enable the company to charge higher rates to its Montana electricity customers.  Hopefully that won’t trickle down to the children of Northwestern shareholders in the form of stockings full of coal.

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Time Warner's Best Hope

Sure, the The Dark Knight is a near definite Oscar winner. But it also may be a key to boosting Time Warner’s earnings and future stock performance.

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