A humorous look at the companies that caught our eye, for better or worse, this week
Eating fried chicken every day is a recipe for poor health. That’s why Yum Brands also offers a wide selection of pizza and tacos. The operator of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell may not win any awards for nutrition, but you won’t hear any complaints from consumers in China, India and elsewhere who are gobbling up its fast-food offerings, boosting Yum’s profit by a better-than-expected 23 per cent in the third quarter. Burp.
Things you thought you’d never see: 1) The Orioles making the playoffs; 2) Romney giving Obama a run for his money; 3) A small gold miner vowing to pay a dividend. Fresh from selling mining assets in Mexico to gazillionaire Carlos Slim for $750-million, AuRico plans a “meaningful one-time return of capital” to shareholders and also aims to establish a regular dividend. Judging by the stock price, investors think the idea is golden.
Good news, Research in Motion shareholders! RIM is actually not the worst-performing stock on the S&P/TSX this year. That distinction belongs to Niko Resources. Hammered by drilling disappointments and a big reserve cut, the oil and gas explorer had its borrowing limit slashed in September, and days later it suspended its dividend. That would explain the year-to-date drop of 69 per cent. (RIM, by the way, is down a mere 48.3 per cent.)
Barnes & Noble
So Apple’s rumoured mini tablet is going to be a big hit, is it? Not if Barnes & Noble can help it. The U.S. bookseller’s CEO said advance orders for its new Nook HD e-readers, which come in 7- and 9-inch screen sizes, are 240 per cent higher than for its previous tablets. With a price tag starting at $199 and Wal-Mart and Target planning to stock the device, B&N shareholders are hoping to take a bite out of Apple’s market share this Christmas.
Bad: A leaky roof. Worse: A leaky roof stock. Owens Corning, which makes roofing and other building materials, cut its full-year earnings outlook amid weakness in the U.S. shingles market, citing a recent price increase that hurt demand. With adjusted earnings before interest and taxes now expected to be at most $310-million, down from a previous estimate of as much as $420-million, investors feel like they just fell off a ladder.