Stocks recovered from a two-day sell-off on Friday, but weren't able to salvage any weekly gains as worries about poor global growth, and news of an Iraqi uprising kept investors on the cautious side. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) stock ended as the worst performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI), even as the index added 41 points, or 0.3%, to end at 16,775.
Wal-Mart lost 0.6% on Friday, finishing with 2.5% losses for the week. As a $240 billion global retailer with thousands of stores and hundreds of thousands of employees, there's admittedly a lot to manage. Wal-Mart has had well-documented difficulty managing the contentment of its workforce; but another, far-more troubling revelation came to light this week regarding its supply chain. According to an investigative piece by The Guardian earlier this week, Thai seafood supplier CP Foods, the world's largest prawn/shrimp farmer, uses slave labor to procure the shrimp, which it then sells to massive retailers like Wal-Mart, Costco, and others. According to the report, the slaves are often beaten and drugged, and sometimes even executed. Both Wal-Mart and Costco have said they're taking action in light of the sickening human rights violations.
On a lighter note, shares of The Priceline Group (NASDAQ:PCLN) shed 3% today after the company announced its acquisition of the restaurant-booking website OpenTable. Priceline will pony up $2.6 billion for the stake, a generous premium to the company's previous valuation: shares surged 48.4% on Wall Street today. Priceline isn't afraid to pay up for growth, which is one reason the company recently changed its name officially from Priceline.com to The Priceline Group. The online travel agency paid $1.8 billion, or a 26% premium, to acquire the travel pricing tools website Kayak in late 2012.
Another company around OpenTable's size that's still small enough and growing fast enough to be a potential takeover target is Shutterfly (NASDAQ:SFLY), which saw shares add 2.6% today. Shutterfly allows customers to upload pictures to its website, then compose their own photobooks or customized calendars that the company then assembles and mails. While there aren't necessarily huge barriers to entry that would stop competitors from elbowing their way in, Shutterfly has built a name for itself, and more than tripled its sales from $246 million in 2009 to $783 million in 2013.
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