Hormel Foods (DOG)
That’s what you call bringing home the bacon. In the latest sign that inflation is driving up labour costs, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said meatpacking employees at Hormel Foods’ plants in Minnesota, Georgia, Wisconsin and Iowa ratified a new contract that includes “the largest wage increases in the company’s history.” In addition to pay hikes of US$3 to US$6 an hour, workers stand to receive enhanced benefits from the company, whose brands include Spam luncheon meat, Skippy peanut butter and Hormel bacon. Judging by the steep decline in Hormel’s stock price, however, shareholders are about as happy as pigs heading to slaughter.
Spin Master (STAR)
Back in the day, we didn’t get video games or fancy toys for Christmas. “Here’s a piece of wood,” Daddy would say. We would play with the wood for hours, tossing it back and forth, occasionally hitting each other on the head with it, until we were tired and our hands were full of splinters. Nowadays, wooden toys are more sophisticated thanks to companies such as Melissa & Doug, whose wooden puzzles and train sets are beloved by parents who don’t want their little ones staring at screens all day. Toy maker Spin Master evidently sees a bright future in wood, too, having agreed this week to acquire U.S.-based Melissa & Doug for US$950-million. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade my Christmas wood memories for any amount of money.
Alimentation Couche-Tard (STAR)
Kids! Do you like hanging out at convenience stores? Take the Circle K challenge! Start with an extra-large Coke and a Snickers bar for breakfast. For lunch, wash down a jumbo hot dog with an ice-cold Froster. Then treat yourself to a half-dozen pizza taquitos for dinner, topped off with a pack of Skittles for dessert. Not only will you be getting all the calories you need for a healthy, growing body, but you’ll be helping parent company Alimentation Couche-Tard achieve its ambitious goal of nearly doubling EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) to US$10-billion by fiscal 2028. Judging by the stock’s ascent to a record high this week, investors are definitely up for the challenge.
MTY Food Group (DOG)
Multiple choice quiz! After the release of MTY Food Group’s third-quarter results this week, which of the following factors did analysts NOT cite as being among the challenges faced by the franchiser of restaurant chains such as Mr. Sub, Manchu Wok and Pizza Delight? a) inflationary wage pressures; b) the dampening effect of rising interest rates on financing for new restaurants; c) a sharp increase in theft by scooter-riding criminals posing as food delivery couriers; d) the potential effect of weight-loss drugs such as Ozempic on restaurant sales. Answer: c.
Well, this is one deal that got investors’ hearts racing. Shares of OpSens surged after the Quebec City-based company – whose fibre-optic technology is used to treat blocked arteries, heart valve malfunctions and other coronary conditions – agreed to be acquired by Boston-based health care company Haemonetics for $345-million or $2.90 a share. With the takeover price representing a 50-per-cent premium to the market value of OpSens’ shares prior to the deal’s announcement, investors are enjoying the euphoric feeling of money coursing through their veins and arteries.