Much to our chagrin, we missed last week's All Candy Expo in Chicago, which introduced, among other things, Jolt gum (two pieces has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee), limited edition white chocolate Reese's cups, Light Upz lollipops, which actually light up in your mouth, and other "interactive" candies. The sugary temptation was just too great and rife for potential envy. We couldn't find an equitable way to send someone.
"Candy makes everyone happy and can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. Just remember it is a treat and eat it in moderation," said a rep from the National Confectioners Associations. Yeah, right. Tell that to Alex (TMF Liquid), who keeps replenishing our Twizzlers here at Fool HQ.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- New Troubles for Martha?
- Quote of Note
- Taking the Lowe's Road
- Save for the Unexpected
- Yummy Times at Campbell
- Discussion Board of the Day: Reality Television
- Quick Takes: Genentech, Chiron, Ford, more
- And Finally...
New Troubles for Martha?
Last week, shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Stewart's problems may run deeper than just possible insider trading and obstruction of justice charges in relation to the shares of ImClone Systems
Stewart's personal problems are affecting her company. Advertisers are placing fewer ads in Martha Stewart Living magazine, for example, and that helped drive down publishing revenue by 20% last quarter. The company's strength is the Martha Stewart brand, and the brand receives a little more tarnish with each negative story.
The latest news does help General Electric-owned NBC
Maybe that's what makes David Gardner attracted to the stock, which he recommended in Motley Fool Stock Advisor.
Quote of Note
"I want to focus on my salad...." -- Martha Stewart, on CBS's The Early Show in 2002, when questioned by anchor Jane Clayson about the ImClone probe
Taking the Lowe's Road
Favorable momentum built by the world's second-largest home-improvement retailer took a breather this morning as Lowe's
While the company was able to top its own profit projections and is holding true to its full-year forecast, the stock got marked down at the open as the market began to wonder if this is a temporary blip or if it's Home Depot
Those who read last week's Dueling Fools, which featured the hardware heavies, are no doubt familiar with the recent pause in Home Depot's popularity. Lowe's had bucked the trend as Home Depot's comps slipped, also growing sales and earnings twice as quickly as its larger rival last year. But is the sector now officially in a rut?
Don't bet the house on it. While Lowe's rationalizations that the rainy economy and the rainy weather factored into the flat showing may appear all wet, the retailer certainly isn't looking to lean on those crutches for too long. It still sees double-digit growth in sales and earnings with comps climbing by 3% to 4% for the entire fiscal year.
May has been Buy, Sell, or Home? month here at The Motley Fool for good reason. Folks are refinancing their homesteads at rock-bottom rates, and with the surging popularity of shows like Trading Spaces and While You Were Out, home makeovers are all the rage.
While it's unfortunate that last month's tax refunds and spring break holidays weren't put to good use at Lowe's -- and we will find out tomorrow how Home Depot fared -- a home has four walls and a fiscal year has four quarters. As long as the company's second quarter backs its outlook calling for a return to growth at the store level, this is definitely not a condemned home, year, company, or sector.
Save for the Unexpected
Here at Fool.com, we spend a lot of time talking about investing in the stock market. But that's for your long-term savings -- money you won't need for at least five years, right? Right! What about those unpredictable zingers life throws at you at the worst times? Why, that's why you need a stash of short-term savings. Let us tell you how to start saving today.
Yummy Times at Campbell
Revenues for the ubiquitous soup brand rose 17% to $1.6 billion. Net income increased even more, jumping 34% to $129 million. Per share, Campbell's cooked up $0.31, ahead of estimates by four cents.
The company has found a sweet mix of innovative products and better-marketed old favorites to boost its shipment volume. Worldwide Q3 wet-soup shipments were up 9%, with growth here in the U.S. up 10%. It was only a few years ago that Campbell looked as watered down as off-brand chicken noodle, with soup sales and volume stagnating. CEO Douglas Conant, who has been on the job for over two years now, has solidly turned the company around.
Sales for its North American soup operations improved 16% over last year, to $600 million. Operating earnings increased 32% for the division, thanks to lower promotional spending and better products.
Campbell is giving Americans more of what they want from food -- increased convenience and ease -- and customers are responding. Its "Soup at Hand," for instance, is a drinkable soup that was introduced last fall. To capitalize on its success, Campbell is adding new flavors to the line this year.
Campbell is addressing customers' convenience in other crucial ways, too. It's moving its entire line of condensed soups to easy-open lids and is rolling out a new product shelving distribution system for grocery stores, which should make shopping for soup a quicker and more efficient process.
Let's not forget that in addition to its extensive soup lineup, Campbell owns Godiva and Pepperidge Farm. It's been very innovative with the "Goldfish" cracker brand, introducing more varieties of them than there are fish in the sea. You can get purple-colored Goldfish, baby Goldfish, giant Goldfish, and Goldfish infused with "extreme" flavors.
It's a veritable Goldfish bonanza, and it's working for Campbell. Sales for the unit housing Godiva and Pepperidge Farm shot up 22% in the quarter, to $434 million.
Campbell is looking for more of the same in the coming quarters, with new products scheduled to launch soon. It anticipates earning between $1.49 and $1.51 for its fiscal year. That represents earnings-per-share growth over the prior year of 16.4% to 17.96%. Trading at a P/E of 15, then, Campbell and its innovative ways look tasty.
Discussion Board of the Day: Reality Television
The TV networks just announced their fall schedules. Are you surprised that reality shows are still popular? What are your favorites? What can the new catch in the secondJoe Millionaire be? All this and more -- in the Reality Television discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
In other biotech news, Chiron
A $290 million punitive-damage award against Ford
In local news, the County League softball season came to an early end yesterday when Rufus Gunther's prize Yorkshire hog, Sally, escaped from her pen and tore up the field while rooting for truffles. Mount Pilot and North Fork, tied with four wins apiece, were declared co-champions.
Today on Fool.com:
- For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
- Rick Munarriz on The Self-Destructing DVD.
- Networks have released their fall schedules. What were they thinking?
- Japan's Bear of a Bear: Save some sympathy for the Japanese stock market.
- Dick's Sporting Goods' IPO price in October was waaay too low.
- In Fool's School, Is your company making the best use of its cash?
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim