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STARS AND DOGS

The Globe’s stars and dogs for the week

A humorous look at the companies that caught our eye, for better or worse, this week

Empire Co. (STAR)

You might say the Empire is striking back. Shares of the food retailer – which plunged in 2015 and 2016 following the botched acquisition of Safeway – have been rebounding as the owner of Sobeys and FreshCo cuts costs and takes other steps to fix the mess it made. With fourth-quarter adjusted earnings beating expectations and the volume of food shipped to stores rising for the first time in four years, it looks as if Empire’s efforts are bearing fruit … and vegetables.

EMP.A (TSX), $22.12, up $3.18 or 16.8% over week


Alder Biopharmaceuticals (DOG)

Sometimes, investing can be such a headache. Alder Biopharmaceutical’s migraine prevention drug eptinezumab (say that three times fast) showed a reduction in headaches during Phase 3 clinical trials. Unfortunately, the results – although statistically significant – weren’t much better than a placebo. With Alder’s stock tanking as it faces competition from big pharma companies developing their own anti-migraine drugs, investors just want to be left alone in a quiet, dark room.

ALDR (Nasdaq), $11.45 (U.S.), down $8.25 or 41.9% over week


Avis Budget Group (STAR)

Bad idea: When you get pulled over for speeding, tell the officer it’s a self-driving car and you “must have been hit by a malware attack.” Good idea: Invest in companies that stand to benefit from the self-driving revolution. Shares of Avis Budget jumped after the rental company announced an agreement to provide fleet management and vehicle-maintenance services to Google owner Alphabet’s self-driving car program. Apparently, cars haven’t learned to wash themselves or change their own oil just yet.

CAR (Nasdaq), $27.27 (U.S.), up $3.03 or 12.5% over week


Staples (STAR)

Business quiz! Shares of office supplies retailer Staples surged after it: a) won an exclusive contract to supply paper to the World Origami Championships in Osaka, Japan this summer; b) announced a special dividend of $2 a share, to be paid with a combination of Post-it notes and highlighter pens; c) agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $6.9-billion or $10.25 a share. Answer: c.

SPLS (Nasdaq), $10.07 (U.S.), up 78¢ or 8.4% over week


Canadian dollar (STAR)

Happy Canada Day! And what better way to mark Canada’s 150th birthday than by packing everyone into the car for cross-border shopping at the U.S. outlet mall? With the Canadian dollar surging this week – lifted by Governor Stephen Poloz’s hints that the Bank of Canada could raise its benchmark interest rate as early as its July 12 announcement – think of how much more crap you’ll be able to bring home.

Dollar 77.06¢ (U.S.), up 1.69¢ or 2.2% over week

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