BUFFETT’S ABOUT-FACE: Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Warren Buffett has reduced his stake in Jones Apparel Group to 1.9 percent, according to a Schedule 13G filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the filing, Buffett owned 2.5 million shares of Jones as of Oct. 31. He held a 6.9 percent stake in December 2001 but since then has increased his apparel portfolio with investments in Fruit of the Loom and Garan Inc. No details or reasons were given in the filing, as none are required in the case of passive investments covered by 13G forms.



KMART FALLOUT: Kimco Realty Corp. in July suspended debt service payments on $60.8 million in mortgage loans for seven properties rejected by bankrupt Kmart, according to Kimco’s quarterly report filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Kimco, which continues to maintain the properties, said it is negotiating with the lenders of the loans. Annual interest expense on the loans is about $5.6 million. The properties are part of the 27 leases Kmart rejected shortly after it filed for bankruptcy in January. Kmart still rents 42 locations from Kimco.



WAL-MART’S GERMAN PRICE PINCH: Germany’s highest court ruled that Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s efforts to sell staple items such as milk and butter below wholesale prices were damaging to competition, according to published reports. The case goes back to September 2000, when the Federal Cartel Office ordered a cease-fire in a grocery price war. Wal-Mart appealed and won, but the case was then appealed to the country’s supreme court.



OCTOBER UPS AND DOWNS:Apparel and accessories ad pages declined 15.5 percent in October to 2,200.6 from 2,604.1, according to Publishers Information Bureau. But toiletries and cosmetic ad pages gained 2.8 percent to 1,742 from 1,702.2 a year ago. From January through October, apparel and accessories ad pages dropped 13.6 percent to 17,949.6 from 20,766.7, while toiletries and cosmetics ad pages dipped 1.9 percent to 13,387.1 from 13,650.2, PIB said.In October, total ad pages for the 12-tracked PIB categories totaled 22,386.9, down 0.2 percent from a year ago, while year-to-date ad pages are down 5.9 percent to 182,072.79.



COACH JAPAN FLAGSHIP: Coach Inc. said Tuesday that it will open its second flagship in Japan next spring. The 7,300- square-foot, two-floor store will be on Inokashira-dori in the Shibuya section of Tokyo. Coach opened its first flagship in Japan in May in Tokyo’s Ginza section, and that store is on track to reach sales of about $15 million in its first year, making it the largest-volume Coach store worldwide, the company said.

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