A humorous look at the companies that caught our eye, for better or worse, this week
“Corn Flakes … again? Nooo!” Thanks to its convenience and long shelf life, breakfast cereal has become a go-to food staple for families stocking up during the pandemic. Citing higher demand in North America and Europe, Kellogg posted a 23-per-cent rise in first-quarter earnings, prompting the maker of Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Mini Wheats to reaffirm its full-year guidance. Sorry, kid, Mom and Dad bought way too much cereal and you’re going to be eating it for the next two years.
Spotify Technology (STAR)
Before the record player, if you wanted to hear music you’d have to gather the family together to sing while Grandma played the piano and cousin Jeb laid down some sick beats with a wooden spoon and an old can of baked beans. Nowadays, you can get millions of songs on demand thanks to online streaming services such as Spotify. With more people listening to tunes at home during the pandemic, the company reported a 31-per-cent increase in monthly active users for the first quarter, sending its stock up the charts.
Paying with filthy, germ-covered cash? That’s so prepandemic. It’s all plastic nowadays, baby. Shares of Mastercard surged after the payments processing company announced that first-quarter revenue and adjusted earnings per share both rose 3 per cent, beating Wall Street expectations. Another reason credit cards are way better than cash is that you can keep spending and spending as long as you make the minimum monthly payment.
With Loblaw’s revenue soaring 10.3 per cent in the first quarter, you’d think investors would be celebrating. Nope. Even as the company posted strong results thanks to consumers stocking up in the early days of the pandemic, Loblaw said expenses have jumped as it hires more staff, offers temporary pay increases, installs plexiglass barriers at checkouts and brings in security guards to promote physical distancing. Rising costs, plus worries about softness in general merchandise and drug sales, were enough to slap a discount sticker on the stock.
Royal Dutch Shell (DOG)
Business quiz! Shares of Royal Dutch Shell fell after the oil and gas company: a) posted a 46-per-cent drop in net earnings as tumbling energy prices and falling demand hammered its bottom line; b) said it will reduce oil and gas output and suspend share buybacks; c) announced a 66-per-cent reduction in its quarterly dividend – the first cut to its payout since the Second World War – citing “the risk of a prolonged period of economic uncertainty, weaker commodity prices, higher volatility and uncertain demand outlook.” Answer: all of the above.
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