The S&P 500 is flat at 2,180, the Dow Jones Industrial average is slipping by 21 points to trade at 18,522 and the Nasdaq is off by 17 points to trade at 5,203. Crude oil is jumping over 2 percent to $42 a barrel as OPEC makes noise about a production freeze, something it has never been able to accomplish. The S&P Retail ETF is dropping by 11 cents to trade at $44.72.
In an effort to compete with Amazon.com Inc, Wal-Mart is acquiring online retailer Jet for approximately $3 billion in cash to be paid over time and $300 million in Wal-mart stock, also to be paid over time. The acquisition will build upon Wal-Mart’s existing e-commerce platform bringing fresh ideas and an attractive brand. Jet has grown quickly as an online retailer reaching $1 billion in gross merchandise value in the first year. Jet adds 40,000 new shoppers each month and averages 25,000 orders a day. Wal-Mart stock is down slightly.
Aéropostale Inc. has been negotiating a sale to private equity firm Versa Capital Management. Versa specializes in distressed investments and the move could potentially save thousands of jobs and keep many stores open. A bankruptcy auction is scheduled for later this month and the bid is seen as a ‘stalking horse’ bid to set a minimum price for other bidders. Aéropostale though is still battling with one of its lenders Sycamore Partners claiming the company pushed them into bankruptcy. That trial is scheduled for later this month.
Gap Stores Inc. is expected to report its July same store sales figures later today. So far there are more downward surprises in July than usual and only one retailer delivered a positive result. The Gap is estimated by Thomson Rueters to post a negative 0.3 percent for comparable sales.
VF Corporation appointed Jim Pisani to the position of global brand president at Timberland. He most recently served as president of Licensed Sports Group. VF also recommended that shareholders not tender their share for TRC Capital’s unsolicited effort to purchase up to 2 million shares at a price of $59.75. This is below the current share price of $62.42. TRC Capital has pursued this strategy with other companies. By seeking less than 5 percent of a company’s outstanding share, they can avoid certain stock filings that are required. The SEC also cautions investors against offers that are below market prices.