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Man with stubble (Thinkstock)
Man with stubble (Thinkstock)

Morning Business Briefing

Scruffy (trying for sexy) at 60: Why I don’t need the 'iPhone of razors' Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, April 21, 2014.

Follow Michael Babad and The Globe's Business Briefing on Twitter.

The razor’s edge
When you’re struggling to still look sexy at 60, every little bit helps. Which is why I’ll resist Procter & Gamble Co.’s attempts to clean me up.

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For me, a few days of stubble was my thing before it was fashionable. I’ve always hated the feel of a beard, but loathed shaving even more, so what’s now the in thing for men is the perfect compromise.

But guys like me – okay, guys younger and sexier than me – are an issue for the likes of P&G and its rival Energizer Holdings Inc. that own the Gillette and Schick brands.

There are several issues buffeting their industry, not just the new look among many men when it comes to so-called wet shaving, but disposable razors and clubs that offer cheaper alternatives.

What Energizer chief executive officer Ward Klein reportedly called “kind of unprecedented” in the United States, and P&G’s chief financial officer noted was lower “incidence of shaving.”

P&G, however, which acquired Gillette in a blockbuster 2005 takeover, takes the Apple Inc. approach of going higher-end.

According to The Wall Street Journal, P&G soon plans to unveil a new ProGlide FlexBall, whose specs read like something you’d see for an iPhone and which will come in both manual and battery-powered versions.

The Journal got its hands on market material that suggests the fancy new gadget will sell for $11.49 (U.S.) for the manual version, and $12.59 for the powered unit. The company, which commands about 70 per cent of the global razor market, aims to start selling the ProGlide FlexBall in early June, just in time for Father’s Day, according to the report.

The handle on this thing reportedly pivots, and, according to the marketing material seen by the Journal, it boasts fewer missed hairs to the tune of 20 per cent.

It also boasts that it cuts facial hair 23 microns shorter, the report says.

For those who may not know, a micron is the old measure for micrometre, or one-millionth of a metre.

For me, I don’t much care if a shaving kit offers one blade or five, or is powered by batteries. Ads that promise that it “cuts effortlessly through facial hair w/less tug and pull” fall on deaf ears.

(As do those for P&G’s Venus, which promise the chance to “get a close, comfortable shave and reveal the goddess in you.”)

Where I stand, the thought of 23 millionths of a metre doesn’t mean that much, but it must be something of a landmark in the shaving world. And it may, in the end, mean something to P&G shareholders, who’ll also be getting a higher dividend next month.

Allergan surges on report
Shares of Canadian-based biotech giant Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. and California company Allergan Inc. soared in after-hours trading today after the Wall Street Journal reported that activist investor Bill Ackman is helping Valeant engineer a takeover of Allergan.

The paper said Mr. Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP has built close to a 10-per-cent stake in Allergan, an investment worth as much as $4-billion. It reported that Pershing Square would maintain a stake in the combined company.

In a securities filing, Valeant said it intends to propose a merger in which Allergan shareholders will receive a combination of cash and common share. It has not yet determined the ratio, but it expect the cash component will be about $15-billion (U.S.), The Globe and Mail's Richard Blackwell and Jacquie McNish report.

Valeant stock rose about 9 per cent in after-hours trading. Allergan shares rose by more than 20 per cent by about 6 p.m. ET.

Netflix on the rise
Shares of Netflix Inc. climbed in after-hours action today amid first-quarter growth in profit, revenue and audience.

Netflix posted a quarterly profit of $53-million (U.S.), or 86 cents a share, compared to just $3-million or 5 cents a year earlier.

Revenue rose to $1.13-billion from $781-million as Netflix added 4 million to its audience to top 46-million paid members.

The company also forecast second quarter profit of $69-million, or $1.12 a share, revenue of $1.14-billion and almost 1.5 million additions to its membership.

“Our original programming initiatives gained momentum in Q1,” the company said.

House of Cards, for which Season 2 debuted in February, attracted a huge audience that would make any cable or broadcast network happy. The on-demand nature of Netflix means that as we promote Season 2, we can still see significant new enjoyment of Season 1.”

Netflix shares climbed more than 6.5 per cent after hours.

Rogers falls short
Softness in its wireless business led Rogers Communications Inc. to first-quarter results that fell short of expectations, The Globe and Mail’s Jacqueline Nelson reports.

The Toronto-based telecommunications, cable and media company said profit reached $307-million or 57 cents a share in the first three months of 2014, down from $353-million or 68 cents a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, profit was $340-million or 66 cents a share. Analyst expectations were for 71 cents.

Across the company, quarterly revenue was relatively flat at $3.02-billion.

Newmont, Barrick in focus
Shares of Newmont Mining Corp. climbed today, and those of Barrick Gold Corp. slipped, after weekend revelations that the two held merger talks that broke down just last week.

Notably, though, The Globe and Mail's Rachelle Younglai and Eric Reguly report, both mining giants are open to the idea of reviving negotiations in the midst of an industry slump.

The companies had aimed for an all-stock merger that could be unveiled before Newmont's annual meeting on Wednesday.

Talks bogged down, though, and broke off for unspecified reasons.

A marriage of Barrick and Newmont would have created a miner worth more than $30-billion (U.S.), with gold production of more than 11 million ounces a year.

This isn't the first time the two have danced around a merger. Together, they own a mine in Nevada and have several nearby projects in that state.

Goldcorp gives up
Goldcorp Inc. is abandoning its quest for Osisko Mining Corp., refusing to top a competing $3.9-billion bid for the Montreal-based company, The Globe and Mail's Eric Atkins reports.

Osisko last week reached a deal to be taken over and split up by Yamana Gold Inc. and Agnico Eagle Gold Inc. The friendly agreement was worth about $7.86, based on share values at the time, compared with Goldcorp’s $7.38 offer.

Vancouver-based Goldcorp, which had made two earlier attempts to buy Osisko, said in a statement today it will let its bid expire tomorrow.

“We stated from the beginning of this process that we would remain disciplined with respect to our offer to acquire Osisko, and our decision not to amend the offer is consistent with that commitment,” said chief executive officer Chuck Jeannes.

Japan logs big deficit
Is Abenomics failing to give Japan’s exporters a lift?

Japan today posted a record annual trade deficit as March exports gained just 1.8 per cent in dollar terms, well shy of what was expected, and fell 2.5 per cent in volume.

“They were about as weak as they could have been Abenomics continues to fail to do much of anything positive for exporters despite the hype,” said Derek Holt and Dov Zigler of Bank of Nova Scotia, referring to the overall trade numbers and the economic program of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“Most of the volume drop was due to a reversal of the 5-per-cent gain in export volumes to Asian markets during the prior month,” they added.

“But import volumes were up strongly (+11.6 per cent) and this might have been related to brought-forward spending ahead of the April 1 sales tax hike from 5 per cent to 8 per cent.”

Air Canada to fire employees
Air Canada is trying to minimize the public relations fallout from an online video showing company employees tossing passengers’ carry-on baggage into a bin several metres below at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

A video of the incident taken by a passenger aboard the plane has registered more than 1 million views on YouTube.

Air Canada says the two employees seen in the video “have been advised that their employment will be terminated pending the outcome of our investigation.” They have been suspended.

According to reports, the amount of luggage on the plane was over capacity and some pieces had to be transferred to the aircraft’s cargo hold.

“In light of a recent video posted to YouTube, we would like to apologize for the totally unacceptable mishandling of our passengers’ baggage captured on video,” said a company statement.

TransCanada slips
TransCanada Corp. shares sank today as investors weighed the impact of the latest in a long string of delays to its proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, The Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Jones writes.

The U.S. State Department said its move on Friday to extend the deadline for its ruling was in response to a court action in Nebraska that could change the route. Officials said they had no option but to extend the deadline for government agencies to comment on anticipated environmental impacts because there is no certainty as to what local ecosystems might be affected.

The extension likely pushes any decision beyond the November mid-term elections in the United States and possibly into next year.

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