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BenzingaEditorial

Retail – It’s Really Bad, but For Some Less Than Others

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Foot Locker News

The Financial Times has reported that closures due to the coronavirus outbreak have been nothing less than the last drop for this already troubled industry. On top of which, the recently passed $2.2 trillion stimulus bill does not look encouraging for retail that was already feeling the crunch before all this chaos, just ask Macy’s Inc (NYSE:M) or Nordstrom Inc (NYSE:JWN) whose shares even lost 59.6% in only a month after its latest earnings report.

Is there any hope for a rebound?

A large part of the retail industry that is not involved in selling groceries, toilet paper or disinfectant has very little cash coming in. Labor costs are usually a retailer’s biggest expense and instant measures will relate to this business segment. Many jobs will be lost as Macy’s already announced that the cuts would affect most of their 125,000 workers, while Gap is planning to furlough nearly 80,000 store employees. Similar actions are expected by other name-brand chains whose products are considered nonessential. In addition, not only the sales personnel will be impacted but also the back-office forces. Nordstrom announced that they would furlough a portion of corporate employees on April 5 for six weeks. Cutting mainly part-time, nonunion workers may be the easiest cost-savings move for retailers. And by granting this sort of absence to employees instead of laying them off, they could potentially speed up their return to normal once things restart. So there is at least a small glimpse of hope for a rebound.

Target

Target (NYSE: TGT) is the neighbourhood superstore for many in the U.S., and that’s where many are turning to get their essential goods during the COVID-19 shut-down. But while sales of necessities are soaring, sales of higher margin goods are slowing down, which is putting significant pressure on the earnings potential. Turnover growth of 20% on a year-over-year basis in March forced the company to hire additional employees in order to ensure a high level of service to the customers. But a growth of 50%  in essential products also means it is also becoming more challenging to sustain a high level of service. So, despite a short-term expected decrease in margins, higher turnover and commitment to customers should be of great advantage in the long-run because they will result in a loyal customer base.

Amazon

Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) is another company which needs to hire additional employees in order to satisfy a surging demand. In March, Amazon announced it plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers. Having in mind that a lot of workers are not interested to put themselves at risk by being in close contact with others, Amazon decided to raise wages by 2 dollars per hour until the end of April. Still, there are a lot of workers who are complaining about the healthy precautions taken and believe the company isn’t doing enough to protect its employees. Although the company assures that all necessary measures have been undertaken, employee relations have never been one of Amazon’s strengths. It seems that the mistreatment of employees is only catching up with the e-commerce giant amid the COVID-19 drama.

Nike is optimistic

According to the latest earning reports, Nike Inc.’s (NYSE:NKE) revenues increased to $10.1 billion in the third quarter, which is 5 percent on a reported basis and 7 percent on a currency-neutral basis, driven by 13 percent currency-neutral growth in NIKE Direct with digital sales growth of 36 percent. Digital sales in Greater China increased more than 30 percent while retail sales were impacted by temporary store closures related to COVID-19. Currently, nearly 80 percent of stores have reopened their doors in Greater China with recorded revenue growth in double digits. On the other hand, since March 16th, all Nike-owned stores outside of China, Japan and Korea were closed also to help curb the spread of COVID-19 but Nike is optimistic for a reason as its latest digital sales have almost reached holiday levels and digital does represent 20 percent of its overall business.

Is the positive trend sustainable? 2021 at least has a shot at being brighter…

It is obvious that this crisis will be a major catalyst for the retail industry which is already in trouble due to the development of e-commerce and change in consumer behaviour. Another huge problem relates to landlords who are not willing to support retailers as they insist on paying rents because they also have obligations. This is only an additional dumbbell for the already troubled industry to carry. Consequently, many retailers might not be able to survive this unforeseen health crisis. But there are some who are managing to do well despite it all. However, the question is whether this positive trend can be sustained since traffic at Walmart In (NYSE:WMT), Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) and even Target has fallen for the first time since the outbreak as a consequence of stockpiling so not all is that bright. But there is always the silver lining. As economic activity resumes and people go back to shopping, traveling and dining out, 2021 could have very easy EPS and other performance results. But this will only be the case if we don’t see another round of economic shutdowns as Asian nations now fear the second coronavirus wave while Europe and the US are still struggling with the first wave.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

BenzingaEditorial

Should Salesforce Shareholders Rejoice or Be Concerned?

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Mid Cap Stocks

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) will have its annual meeting of stockholders on Thursday, June 11, 2020, but in virtual form. The stock of the global leader in CRM tumbled immediately following its recent first-quarter results. The months before and at the initial phase of the pandemic were exceptionally good. But it is the second-quarter and full-year fiscal 2021 guidance for the year ending Jan. 31, 2021 that resulted in a downgrade. Yet despite the damage and costs brought on by COVID-19, its shareholders have a lot of positive development to rejoice in.

Impressive growth considering the circumstances

Considering the global climate, the fact that Salesforce continued to grow at a fast pace is beyond admirable. Moreover, highlights from the start of the year include the largest deal that Salesforce ever booked and it is with AT&T (NYSE:T). The telecommunications giant will be building a new unified view of all its customer data using Salesforce. It will begin upgrading its services to create a better customer experience during summer.

Market domination

As for the fiscal 2021, the CRM giant clearly dominated the market with $20 billion of expected annual sales. In addition, the pandemic accelerated the switch to cloud computing. Over the recent months, businesses have rushed to implement work-from-home solutions. This is expected to only further boost the company’s SaaS businesses. As for 2019, it was well ahead of SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) with 18.4% in market share as opposed to 5.3% and 5.2% respectively, according to research firm IDC.

Altered Revenue Structure

While Salesforce has been known as a SaaS powerhouse throughout its entire 21-year existence, this has now changed. Its largest and fastest-growing business is now “Platform and Other” as it topped Service, Sales, Marketing and Commerce. Moreover, the shape of the enterprise is continually evolving. That’s a profound development for a company which occupies third place on the Cloud list. It is just behind the mighty Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Moreover, this is a very clear indicator that the world’s top cloud providers are doing everything in their power to enhance their offerings. The cloud is after all becoming the new IT foundation of the digital economy.

Going strong despite headwinds

Overall, this software giant proved it managed to become and remain an essential ingredient of many organizations’ operational needs. And what’s even more impressive, it maintained its status during such difficult times. The mega-cap cloud computing leader that has a current market cap of $157 billion, along with growing sales of nearly 20% and a stable free cash flow amid a deep recession, is still in an admirable position. And one that is surely envied by its many peers. This tech giant has plenty of liquidity to continue aggressively investing its development along with taking care of both its customers and employees. Moreover, the pace of digital transformation is only accelerating with lifestyles getting significantly altered by COVID-19. And like one of the pioneers leading this transformation, Salesforce has nothing to fear as it is both changing and thriving in the current climate.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Slack Fails to Deliver Another COVID-19 Blockbuster

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Stock Market Tumble

Unlike Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ:ZM), Slack Technologies Inc (NYSE:WORK) didn’t manage to deliver a blockbuster quarter. By no means was it bad as the company reported steady revenue growth with usage increasing over the pandemic. Even Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will be offering Slack to its employees. But expectations were quite higher  so shares ended up dropping 17% in extended trading on Thursday.

First quarter earnings report

Revenue of $201.7 million resulted in an adjusted loss of 2 cents per share. The company added a record 12,000 paid customers in the quarter. This is more than 5,000 in the two previous quarters. Slack’s top competitor, Microsoft’s Teams, saw an explosive expansion of 70% in April as it reached more than 75 million daily active users.

For the next quarter, the company’s guidance for revenue is $206 million to $209 million with an adjusted loss of 4 cents to 3 cents per share.

AWS investment

Besides Amazon offering Slack to its employees, Slack will adopt Amazon Web Services’ Chime video-calling technology to enhance its calling features. Slack amended its initial agreement with AWS where it commited to at least $250 million in a five-year period that ended in 2023. It will now pay least $425 million over a five-year period that ends in April 2025.

Slack didn’t board the blockbuster boat but still did good

Revenue growth was 50% which is pretty much the same as 49% in the previous quarter. Zoom pulled off a 169% revenue growth, more than doubling guidance and exceeding forecasts. Not to mention the skyrocketing usage of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Microsoft Teams. Slack didn’t manage to board that boat. But Zoom’s executives have a different way of looking at it. They find it as a great indication that they are not apples-to-apples rivals as the products are not truly competitive with one another. If we exclude the after-hours move, its shares did go up about 70% since the beginning of the year. But can Slack afford not catching up to the popularity of Zoom and Microsoft is a question that subsequent quarters will answer. Yet, many analysts see the pandemic as the point that either makes or breaks such companies whose products benefit from social distancing. If not now, when?

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Even Oil Giants Are Under Tremendous Pressure

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Canadian Oil

The global oil market is in a state of hysteria. And not only COVID-19 is to blame, although its impact is being felt all over the globe. It is inevitable for the near future to be filled with bankruptcies, cost savings and cuts in spending as businesses are looking for ways to get through this historically difficult period.

The troubled industry

The year already began with over supply thanks to decades worth of expansion in U.S. onshore production. The price war between OPEC and Russia only further amplified the oversupply problem. That issue has at least been resolved. But the real hit was the global economic shutdown from COVID-19 which resulted in a drop in demand. With too much oil and too little demand, oil prices have plummeted to historic lows.

Cutting dividends

The current headwinds are intense, and have led many energy companies to trim their dividends. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.B) and Equinor are two direct competitors that have taken this drastic step to ensure they have ample cash to survive and they have a long histories of reliably returning cash to investors. Even Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP) which had a streak of 47 annual dividend hikes under its belt along with a rock-solid balance sheet still felt it necessary to cut the dividend in March.

It’s only logical to question whether or not peers ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) will be forced to do the same.

Chevron cutting jobs

Chevron has increased its dividend annually for 33 consecutive years. At the end of the first quarter, Chevron’s total long-term debt had increased roughly 20% from the start of the year. At the end of May, it announced a 15 percent cut of its global workforce.

Exxon has no layoff plans

Exxon’s dividend streak is even longer as it has increased its dividend annually for 37 consecutive years. But Exxon’s long-term debt jumped even more than Chevron since the beginning of the year as it rose by nearly a third.

Top and bottom lines at Exxon and Chevron are clearly driven by the price of oil which reached historic lows. Even Russia’s second-largest oil producer PJSC Lukoil (OTC:LUKOY) hurt by lower oil prices as it reported a first-quarter net loss of $669 million on Wednesday.

Shell and Equinor Vs Exxon and Chevron

Thus, Shell and Equinor chose to preserve cash by cutting their dividends. Starting out with much lower leverage, Exxon and Chevron have more balance sheet flexibility and they are using to protect their dividends, for now. Paying a consistent and growing dividend is important to the boards of these energy giants. But the energy market is at a painful place right now.

The boards of Exxon and Chevron will make the hard call to cut their dividends if need be.

Whichever the scenario, the big guys actually have a shot at pulling through thanks to the help of the Trump Administration, unlike many of their small peers which won’t even be able to afford Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

Uncertain future

There have been multiple ups and downs in the historically cyclical energy sector over the last three decades. But the biggest change is yet to take place: the green revolution. Exxon and Chevron have taken steps toward the low-carbon future. Exxon is developing biofuels from algae, while Chevron has invested in solar, wind and geothermal power sources. But environmental activists say they haven’t done enough. So, even with the support of the Trump administration, oil has an uncertain future. And even oil giants will need to fight for survival in the post-COVID-19 era.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

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