BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported sluggish sales and a seven per cent drop in first-quarter profit as worker pay raises, spending on e-commerce and currency fluctuations put pressure on the bottom line at the world’s largest retailer.The company also reported a 1.1 per cent increase for a key sales measure at its U.S. Wal-Mart stores, its third consecutive quarter of increases. However, that growth came below analysts’ expectations.By comparison, Wal-Mart’s Canadian stores performed well with revenue up 3.7 per cent and comparable-store growth of 1.8 per cent, thanks partly to improvements at its food business and strong performance in seasonal items.The company has one fewer rival to contend with since Target closed all its Canadian stores in recent weeks but continues to face stiff opposition from Canada’s domestic retail chains, particularly in the grocery business.Walmart Canada said May 8 that it plans to spend about $350 million to acquire and renovate 13 former Target Canada stores and a distribution centre to add to its own retail network.Overall, Wal-Mart’s profit and total sales missed Wall Street estimates. The weakness adds to questions about the health of consumer spending. The latest government retail sales figures showed spending was flat in April, and Macy’s, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney announced disappointing results despite low gas prices and improvements in the job market.The retail industry also is battling temporary issues, such as the labour dispute at West Coast ports that delayed shipments of merchandise.Wal-Mart itself is a barometer of consumer spending. Its challenges reflect the struggles of its low-income shoppers, who are being squeezed by stagnant wages and higher living costs. Wal-Mart pointed out that its customers were either pocketing tax refunds and their savings from lower gas prices, or using them to pay pay down debt or bills like utilities.Wal-Mart also is facing fierce competition from the likes of online king Amazon.com, dollar stores and grocers. It’s also dealing with a shift among shoppers seeking the convenience of small stores or buying on their mobile devices and PCs.In response, Wal-Mart is rapidly opening smaller stores. It is also increasing its spending for its online operations to between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion this year, up from $1 billion last year. It announced last week it was testing an unlimited free-shipping service for $50 a year, undercutting Amazon’s popular Amazon Prime, whose annual dues are $99.In Wal-Mart’s U.S. division, the company is trying to improve it selection and customer service, while making sure it has the lowest prices. Wal-Mart is also aiming to improve the freshness of its produce.The company expects to see improved results by the holiday season, according to Greg Foran, who had been president and CEO of Wal-Mart Asia and took over Wal-Mart’s U.S. business last summer.As part of the strategy, the company raised the minimum wages for its hourly workers to $9 per hour in April. By February 2016, all hourly workers will make at least $10 per hour.That comes at a cost. It’s part of a $1 billion investment in its workforce that also includes improved training.Wal-Mart is hoping that by investing in its people, Wal-Mart will improve customer service, resulting in higher sales.“We’re not interested in reaching our goals, but reaching them in a way which is sustainable for the long term,” Foran said. “This requires a steady execution, a pace that is fast but calculated, and one that allows us to get it right.”But such investments are squeezing profits in the short term.Wal-Mart said that net income was $3.34 billion, or $1.03 per share, for the three months that ended April 30. That compares with $3.59 billion, or $1.11 per share, a year earlier.Net revenue was down slightly to $114.0 billion, from $114.2 billion in the year-ago quarter.Analysts were expecting $1.04 per share and revenue of $116.27 billion, according to Zacks Investment Research._____Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on WMT at http://www.zacks.com/ap/WMT— with a file from The Canadian Press Currency shifts, pay raises put pressure on Wal-Mart profit as revenue declines FILE – In this June 5, 2014 file photo, Rick Patanella, right, offers bacon samples to Karla and Gary Owens at Sam’s Club in Bentonville, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reports quarterly financial results before the market opens Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Sarah Bentham, File) by The Associated Press Posted May 19, 2015 9:05 am MDT Last Updated May 19, 2015 at 12:10 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
Real estate giant RioCan launching a strategic review of its U.S. portfolio by Alexandra Posadzki, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 31, 2015 6:12 am MDT Last Updated Jul 31, 2015 at 11:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:REI.UN) is launching a strategic review of its U.S. operations, a process that could lead to the real estate giant selling part or all of its portfolio of properties south of the border.“It’s very difficult to grow down there,” chief executive Edward Sonshine said during a conference call Friday with investors.Sonshine said RioCan purchased its properties south of the border when the loonie was performing much better relative to the U.S. dollar. Its average purchase price saw the two currencies roughly at par, Sonshine said.With the U.S. dollar now significantly outperforming the loonie, Sonshine said the company could realize large profits if it decided to sell.But he stopped short of speculating on what RioCan would use the proceeds of the sale for, saying such conjecture would be “premature” and that divesting the properties was only one of many options the company is considering.The U.S. portfolio is valued at around $1.2 billion on a net basis, Sonshine said.“This is something that we’ve been pondering and kicking around internally as it became clear, probably 18 months ago, that we couldn’t just keep acquiring the way that we had been in the past in the United States,” Sonshine said.The company has hired external advisers to help it determine what to do with the portfolio. It expects the review to be completed by the end of the year.Sonshine made his comments as the company reported a second-quarter profit of $86 million or 26 cents per share, down from $159 million and 51 cents per share in the same period last year.RioCan has been scrambling to fill vacant space after U.S. discount retailer Target pulled out of Canada earlier this year.While new tenants have been found for some of the stores — with Lowes Canada snatching up six while Canadian Tires is taking over one of RioCan’s former Target locations — the Toronto-based company says it’s unlikely that all of the vacant stores will be taken over by single tenants.Instead, RioCan is looking to split up many of the former Target stores into smaller units. The company estimates it could be 18 to 24 months before new tenants are paying rent for those units.Meanwhile, the company is negotiating with Target with regards to rent payments as well as damages that the retailer had promised as part of its indemnity agreements. RioCan said it has yet to receive any of the payments.RioCan, which owns nearly 50 million square feet of retail space in Canada and the U.S., said it made $322 million in consolidated revenue in the quarter ending June 30, up from $303 million in the same period last year.Committed occupancy for its 338 income properties and 15 properties under development was 93.9 per cent in the quarter, down from 96.9 per cent last year.The company said the departure of Target Canada, which leased 18 stores from RioCan and ceased operations in April, caused a 2.7 per cent drop in its committed occupancy and pushed its revenue from anchor tenants down to 83.7 per cent of the total from 86.6 per cent the year before.Follow @alexposadzki on Twitter.
by John Cotter, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 6, 2016 9:23 am MDT Last Updated Jul 6, 2016 at 10:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Health Canada proposes rules for veterinary antimicrobial drugs in livestock EDMONTON – The federal government is proposing new rules for veterinary drugs used in livestock as it works to reduce human health risks associated with resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials.Health Canada says the decreasing effectiveness of antimicrobials is having a significant impact on the government’s ability to protect Canadians from infectious diseases.“The overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in animals is a contributing factor to the development and spread of AMR (antimicrobial-resistance),” reads a summary of the proposed rules.“The development of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens in animals can pose serious risks to human health when they are transmitted as food-borne or water-borne contaminants. Antimicrobial-resistant infections are associated with a greater risk of death, more complex illnesses, longer hospital stays and higher treatment costs.”The department says current regulations do not provide the necessary regulatory oversight to mitigate the risk.The proposed changes would restrict the importation of some veterinary drugs used in livestock, require drug manufacturers to follow stricter rules regarding the quality of active ingredients and allow for increased monitoring of drug sales.The department is seeking feedback on the proposals until Sept. 8.Dr. Joyce Van Donkersgoed, a veterinarian who advises the National Cattle Feeders’ Association, said the changes are overdue.She said there are rumours that some producers have imported antimicrobials for use on their animals, but it doesn’t appear to be a widespread problem.“The industry actually wants some of these regulations to protect us from the bad apples,” she said from her practice in Picture Butte in the heart of Alberta’s feedlot sector. “It is not in our best interest to not use drugs prudently.”The Canadian Meat Council, which represents federally registered meat packers, said it is reviewing the proposed changes with its member companies.Ron Davidson, a council spokesman, said the industry is pleased the amendments deal with the use of unapproved livestock drugs, which can leave residues in food.The Canadian Pork Council, Turkey Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association also said they are reviewing the proposed changes.“Canadian Pork Council believes the use of antibiotics is an important tool for the welfare of the animal and herd management,” said spokesman Gary Story. “Our goal is to produce safe food while reducing the need for antibiotics.”Health Canada said it is also working to phase out growth promotion claims on antimicrobial drugs used in food animal production by the fall of 2017.Department spokeswoman Rebecca Gilman said the government does not plan to ban antimicrobials in animal feed.“In some instances, antibiotics are administered in feed for both the treatment and prevention of diseases,” she said.“There is no plan to phase out this use as it remains important for food-producing animals — to still have access to antibiotic therapy.”The government says more than 75 per cent of antimicrobials sold in Canada are for use in animals, mainly to promote growth or to guard against disease and infection. About 1.6 million kilograms of antimicrobials were distributed for use in animals in 2013.Health Canada says the proposed changes will align Canada with policies in the United States and the European Union.
by Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 26, 2016 11:01 am MDT Last Updated Jul 26, 2016 at 3:35 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email ‘No warning:’ Churchill mayor angry over shutdown of grain shipments WINNIPEG – Politicians, workers and farmers say they were blindsided by news that the Port of Churchill in northern Manitoba is effectively shutting down.“It totally came out of nowhere, actually, and the community is just shocked by it all,” Churchill Mayor Mike Spence said Tuesday.The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees said workers at the port were told Monday afternoon they were being laid off and that the small, seasonal port on the coast of Hudson Bay will not operate this year.It was also a surprise to Manitoba’s largest farmers group, Keystone Agricultural Producers, which said the port is needed to help handle a large grain crop expected this year. The port’s closure will hit farmers in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan hard because the cost of transporting their grain to southern ports is higher, the group said.The port has been the biggest employer in the subarctic town of 800. Port employees make up about 10 per cent of the population.Omnitrax, the U.S. company that owns the port, did not comment on the announcement nor did officials respond Tuesday to interview requests.Omnitrax has been trying to sell the port, along with the rail line that connects Churchill to southern Manitoba, and announced a tentative agreement in principle with a group of First Nations last year.Workers had been negotiating a new collective agreement and were shocked by the company’s decision.“They had mentioned that our numbers were low, that our shipments were low … but they never, ever gave us any indication that they were going to shut the doors,” union representative Teresa Eschuk said.The union and Spence hope the federal government, which ran the port until it was sold to Omnitrax in 1997, will step in to ensure it survives.“Basically, the course of action is to lobby the government so that we can come up with a plan so that we can in fact reverse the (closure),” Spence said.The Manitoba government said it has received assurances that freight service along the rail line to Churchill will continue, including shipments of subsidized fresh food.The province also said it will work with the federal government and others to see what more can be done.“We are focused on partnering with communities and business leaders to attract investment, assist entrepreneurs and facilitate expansion of existing opportunities to ensure prosperity for northern Manitoba communities,” Cliff Cullen, minister of growth, enterprise and trade, said in a written statement.
Hanjin Shipping to get more funds to resolve cargo crisis by Youkyung Lee, The Associated Press Posted Sep 22, 2016 6:39 am MDT Last Updated Sep 22, 2016 at 7:20 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email SEOUL, South Korea – Hanjin Shipping is to receive as much as $100 million in additional funds to resolve the cargo crisis caused by its slide toward bankruptcy.Hanjin’s lead creditor, Korea Development Bank, said Thursday it will offer a credit line of 50 billion won ($45 million) to help the shipper unload cargo stranded offshore.The announcement comes a day after Korean Air Lines’ board approved a 60 billion won ($54 million) loan to the troubled ocean shipping line. Korean Air and Hanjin Shipping are part of Hanjin Group, one of the largest business conglomerates in South Korea. Chairman Cho Yang-ho and former Hanjin Shipping chair Choi Eun-young earlier contributed a combined $44.6 million from their personal wealth to pay for unloading cargo on Hanjin’s container ships.The state-owned bank said its credit line will be used only when other available funds from Hanjin Shipping, Korean Air, the company officials and others are used up.Even with the help of the bank, it was not clear if the new funds would be enough to solve the cargo crisis.South Korea’s Yonhap News cited a South Korean court as saying that Hanjin Shipping needs 173 billion won ($157 million) to unload cargo at ports. Including fees for transporting cargo to final destinations, the company needs 270 billion won ($245 million), Yonhap said.Dozens of ships around the world have remained stranded for nearly a month since Hanjin’s Aug. 31 bankruptcy filing because it couldn’t cover fuel bills or guarantee payment to dockworkers and others.That left billions of dollars’ worth of clothing, electronics, furniture and other goods expected to fill the shelves ahead of the fall shopping season stranded offshore. Several ships were unloaded after a U.S. court provided Hanjin protection from any more seizures in U.S. territory but many are still marooned at sea.The crisis also left sailors trapped for weeks on those ships. South Korea’s maritime ministry said sailors on the Hanjin Scarlet used rainwater for cleaning to save drinking water in case they are stranded on the vessel for a longer term. The ship only has enough food and water for its sailors until Oct. 6.Hanjin Shipping began providing food and other daily necessities to sailors who have less than 10 days of food left. A model of container ship with Hanjin Shipping Co.’s logos is displayed at its head office in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Hanjin Shipping is to receive as much as $100 million in additional funds to resolve the cargo crisis caused by its slide toward bankruptcy. (Park Dong-ju/Yonhap via AP) KOREA OUT
STRATHMORE, Alta. – One of Canada’s largest pork companies has taken over southern Alberta hog producer Pinnacle Farms.Olymel L.P says it becomes the owner of all Pinnacle’s assets, which include quarantine, sow, nursery and finishing barns.It also takes over management of the operation near Strathmore, east of Calgary.The cost of the acquisition isn’t being disclosed.Pinnacle, which employs 30 people, has been supplying finishing hogs to Olymel for more than four years.The pork giant says its goal is to produce more than 1.5 million hogs annually in Western Canada by 2020 to meet a growing demand from customers.Olymel has a processing plant in Red Deer, Alta., with more than 1,500 workers.The company employs almost 11,500 people, including more than 8,000 in Quebec, and has large facilities in Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.It exports nearly one-third of its total sales to more than 65 countries, but mainly to the United States, Japan and Australia. Annual sales are pegged at $3.2 billion.The company markets its products mainly under the Olymel, Lafleur and Flamingo brands. Pork giant Olymel takes over southern Alberta hog producer Pinnacle Farms by The Canadian Press Posted Nov 25, 2016 10:07 am MDT Last Updated Nov 25, 2016 at 11:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
Sprott Inc. sells diversified assets for $46M; says staff count will be halved by The Canadian Press Posted Apr 10, 2017 3:43 pm MDT Last Updated Apr 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – Sprott Inc. (TSX:SII) says it will cut its staff count in half to about 100 employees as it sells its Canadian diversified assets to a management group for about $46 million.The asset management firm says it has struck a deal with a group led by managers of its Sprott Asset Management subsidiary, CEO John Wilson and president James Fox.Peter Grosskopf, CEO of Sprott Inc., says the sale is designed to allow the Toronto-based company focus on its “core competencies,” which include precious metals and natural resources as it pursues global opportunities in those areas.Sprott is selling management agreements in investment funds and accounts totalling $3 billion under management and says it will enter into agreements with the buyer to provide sub-advisory services for $865 million in precious metals strategies assets.It would be left with $7.5 billion in assets under management, including the sub-advisory agreements.Sprott Inc. says employees now managing the assets being sold would continue to advise as employees of the buyer.