A humorous look at the companies that caught our eye, for better or worse, this week
Making cereal is hard. First, you have to pour the cereal into the bowl. Then you have to add the milk. Then you have to find a spoon and spend several precious minutes chewing and swallowing the cereal. Finally, you have to put your empty bowl into the dishwasher. It’s just too exhausting for some people, apparently, which is why cereal sales have been falling for years as consumers opt for breakfast items they can eat on the go. It also explains why Kellogg’s cereal sales in North America fell 4 per cent in the fourth quarter, causing its stock to turn soggy.
Avon Products (DOG)
Business quiz! Shares of Avon Products fell after the direct seller of beauty and personal care items: a) was the victim of a well-organized US$300-million makeup heist by a criminal gang of supermodels; b) tried to give its old slogan a fresh, contemporary twist by announcing a new catchphrase: “Ding-dong, Avon calling, y’all.” c) reported a 14-per-cent drop in first-quarter revenue as the number of active sales representatives fell 9 per cent, driven by declines in Russia and Brazil. Answer: c.
Transat A.T. (STAR)
Transat investors can put away the vomit bags – for now. Shares of the airline and vacation operator had plunged about 45 per cent in 2018 amid falling profits, rising costs and growing competition from bigger airlines. But the struggling stock rebounded this week after Montreal-based Transat said it is in “preliminary discussions with more than one party” regarding a potential sale of the company. A deal had better materialize – or the stock could be headed for more turbulence.
Shopify – not to be confused with Spotify, Optify, Storify or Mobify – sure has been a great place to investify. Boosted by international expansion, the Ottawa-based online shopping platform reported a 50-per-cent jump in first-quarter revenue and posted adjusted earnings of US$10.3-million or 9 US cents a share, surprising analysts who had expected a loss. With the stock up more than 80 per cent this year and the company raising its sales forecast, shareholders are thrillified.
“A, B, C, D, E, F, G, Alpha-bet is kill-ing me.” Shares of Google parent Alphabet suffered their biggest single-day drop since 2010 after the technology giant reported results that badly missed expectations. The main concern for investors was Google’s slowing online ad revenue, which increased by only 15.3 per cent in the first quarter, down from 24.4 per cent a year earlier. Changes at YouTube to curb the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories may have played a role in the slowdown, so maybe there’s a silver lining to Alphabet’s loss of US$70-billion in market cap.