Headlines this morning include some shareholder activism at Dell, a consumer group calling for an investigation into Herbalife, weak earnings from Dole Foods, soft guidance from Express, a new lending program at Discover and a possible buyer for Twinkies.
Computer-maker Dell (DELL) rejected a request from shareholders rights groups that asked to review internal information that led to a proposed $24.4 billion buyout of the company by company founder Michael Dell. A Dell lawyer said in a letter that Shareholder Forum had no met the legal standard needed to access the documents that lead to the board's decision.
Hedge-fund manager William Ackman, who has a very public short position on herbal supplement maker Herbalife (HLF) welcomes a push by a consumer group for an investigation into the multi-level marketing company. The National Consumers Leage wants to the Federal Trade Commission to investigate claims that the company is a pyramid scheme and the company's responses.
After finding bidders from some of its less-interesting products, like selling Wonder Bread to Flowers Foods (FLO), Hostess may have found a buyer for the crown jewel of its crumpled empire. Billionaire Dean Metropoulos with help from Apollo Global Management, have put together a $410 million bid for the business that includes Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Cupcakes. The deal must still be approved by a bankruptcy court.
Fruit producer Dole (DOLE) reported an adjusted loss from continuing operations of 59 cents per share on revenue of $888 million for the quarter that ended De. 29. That compares to Wall Street estimates from a loss of 1 cent per share on $1.3 billion in sales. The company took a charge of 37 cents per share related to its $1.69 billion sale of its packaged foods group. The company also said lower banana prices in North America had a negative impact on the company's results.
Apparel retailer Express (EXPR) reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 75 cents per share on sales of $728.7 million. Analysts had expected earnings of 74 cents on sales of $722.5 million. Same-store sales during the period rose by 1.5 percent. Looking forward, the company expects to earn between 34 and 38 cents per share for the current quarter, well below estimates for 46 cents. For the full year, the company expects to earn between $1.40 and $1.54 per share, compared to estimates for $1.72 per share.
Credit-card issuer Discover Financial (DFS) will begin offering home-equity loans in the second half of 2013 as the company continues to push into more lines of business that have traditionally been the realm of banks. The company will make fixed-rate loans of between $25,000 and $100,000, Carlos Minetti, the company executive vice president of consumer banking and operations, told an investor briefing. Minetti said he expects the program to appeal consumers who are looking to consolidate debt and added that he expects the program will compliment the company's existing personal loan program, which is currently capped at $25,000. The program is not expected to have an impact on earnings this year or in 2014.