Today, a federal judge denied Martha Stewart a new trial, setting the stage for the uber homemaker to be sentenced next month for lying about her sale of ImClone Systems
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Is It Coke O'Cola Now?
- Shameless Plug: Motley Fool Income Investor
- Whole Foods on Fire
- Quote of Note
- CVS Prescribes Growth
- Discussion Board of the Day: CVS
- More on Fool.com Today
By Bill Mann (TMF Otter)
After a high-profile, somewhat controversial international search, Coca-Cola
Neville Isdell, a citizen of Ireland, has spent much of his career with Coca-Cola, having joined the company in 1966 in its operations in Zambia. He became known at the company for his ability to enter into hostile new markets and establish beachheads for Coke products. He left the company in 1998 after former CEO Doug Ivester didn't elect to promote him to the No. 2 position, choosing instead to leave it empty.
He didn't stray far, though, sliding into the chairmanship at Coca-Cola Beverages, now part of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company
The primary internal candidate for the top slot was current COO Steven Heyer, who is 51. Many believe that he will depart and look for a chief executive job elsewhere, but others think that he may wait out the string for Isdell. Coca-Cola maintains a retirement age at 65, which means that while Isdell may be an ideal short- and medium-term selection, his time in the CEO's office will necessarily include another search within the next two to three years.
For the time being, Isdell is coming back home, and while Coke under Doug Daft has answered some of the criticisms the company has faced in recent history, it is still very much a work in progress that Isdell will have to continue.
Bill Mann owns no shares in any companies mentioned in this story.
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By Seth Jayson
The biggest retailer of organic and natural foods runs a very tight ship, and it has mesmerized Fools for a while. It was once a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, and recently drew the attention of Salim Haji, who judged it a bargain despite the sky high-looking P/E ratio. (To be fair, competitor Wild Oats Markets
As yesterday's first-quarter numbers show, Whole Foods growth appears phenomenally well managed, and it has been getting better. The success almost becomes boring in the retelling.
Revenues are up 24% to $902 million. Comps growth, which has accelerated from 8.5% over the past decade to 16% over the past two quarters, reached an official terminal velocity of 17% this quarter. As enthusiastic as management is, it warned that such a rate cannot continue.
Couple the organic sales growth per store with new locations and improving net margins, and you end up staring at a bottom line that shows earnings up 32% to $0.54 per share. In light of the strong growth, the firm upped its full-year EPS guidance to around $2.07 per share.
With further expansion provided by the firm's ample cash flow -- meaning there's little debt and little to fear from an upcoming raise in lending rates -- Whole Foods is a champion. The game is theirs to lose. Wild Oats might score a few, but competition from the likes of Kroger
I never thought I'd write anything like this, but yeah, if you're in it for the long haul, the grocery store chain trading at a P/E of 42 still looks like a pretty smart investment.
"He who has never hoped can never despair." -- George Bernard Shaw
CVS Prescribes Growth
By Mike Cianciolo
The soon-to-be leader of the drugstore market had a spectacular first quarter as a result of improved sales and margins. CVS
CVS doesn't appear to be showing any signs of slowing down either, as the company continues to expand its business in both traditional and creative ways. It expects to finalize its acquisition of 1,260 Eckerd drug stores (currently owned by J.C. Penney
The company also made camera phone photo printing available in all CVS stores with one-hour photo services. CVS became the first national retailer to provide this option. The company expects this service to bring in new customers to its stores as it did with digital photo customers (13% of the company's digital photo customers were new to CVS). Camera phone sales are expected to increase from 7.5 million to 21.3 million by the end of the year, according to figures quoted by the company.
The company also released its statement of cash flows this morning, which Fools mightily appreciate. It produced $126.6 million in free cash flow for the quarter, substantially ahead of last year's $7.6 million.
In addition to the remarkable earnings and free cash flow growth, CVS reported an increase in same-store sales of 6.4%, while total revenues rose 8% to $6.82 billion. The company's gross margins expanded impressively to 26% from 25%
With this type of performance, one might expect the stock to come at an outrageous price. Well, with CVS, that's not the case. Though it's trading near its 52-week high and may cross it today, it's still a relative value at just under $40. Its forward P/E of 19.3 compares very favorably to competitor Walgreen, which is trading at 26.9 times forward earnings. I may not have paid much attention to it in the past, but I'm certainly going to keep an eye on CVS in the future.
Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo welcomes feedback and doesn't own any of the companies mentioned in this article.
What's your opinion on CVS? Did it do the smart thing by buying Eckerd? Will you go get your camera phone pics developed there? Talk about it on the CVS discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Would your portfolio look different if you could only buy 20 stocks in your lifetime? Bill Mann distills some vintage Warren Buffett advice in Warren Buffett and his 20 Punches.... The implications of option expensing is still a searing topic. Paul Elliott won't have management divvying up his hidden gems. Read on for more in An Investor's Worst Enemy... And Mother's Day is just around the corner! Pay homage to the lady who loves you most and check out our Stocks for Mom special.
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