The news at a glance
Retailing: A blacker Friday; Aviation: Boeing’s Dreamliner woes pile up; Deals: Private-equity firms pounce on Del Monte; Feuds: SAP owes Oracle $1.3 billion; Investigations: Arrest in insider trading case
Retailing: A blacker FridayShoppers were in a spending mood last week, as the traditional holiday shopping season got off to a strong start on Black Friday, said Stephanie Clifford in The New York Times. In the best showing since 2004, an estimated 212 million people hit malls, Main Street stores, and e-commerce websites during the long Thanksgiving weekend, up from 195 million in 2009, and the average shopper spent about $365, 6 percent more than last year, said the National Retail Federation. Online sales rose 9 percent the day after Thanksgiving, to $648 million, according to the online research firm ComScore.
Shoppers—especially “all those who aren’t members of the Tiffany crowd”—might not be able to keep up the pace during the remainder of the season, said Brett Arends in The Wall Street Journal. Unemployment is high, consumers’ savings are meager, and “there is a long, long way to go before household balance sheets look healthy again.” Many retailers, their shelves “groaning under the weight” of stockpiled inventory, are prepared to keep slashing prices as the holidays approach. “You have a much better chance of getting good deals across the board if you just wait.”
Aviation: Boeing’s Dreamliner woes pile upBoeing last week revised the production schedule of its 787 Dreamliner, which is already almost three years late, said Roger Yu in USA Today. The latest production hiccup follows an onboard electrical fire during a November test flight. Boeing is staking its future on the Dreamliner, which is built from composite materials “to make it more fuel-efficient and to appeal to customers seeking fuel savings.” But engineering flaws and problems with the quality of some components have forced Boeing to postpone the plane’s scheduled delivery several times.
Deals: Private-equity firms pounce on Del MonteA group of private-equity firms led by KKR has agreed to buy Del Monte for $4 billion, plus the assumption of $1.3 billion in debt, said Martin Arnold in the Financial Times. The deal gives KKR control of Del Monte’s canned-food lines in the U.S. and Latin America, as well as of the Meow Mix and Milk-Bone pet-food lines. “A recovery in the credit markets is encouraging private-equity groups to be more ambitious after a two-year slump in buyouts.”
Feuds: SAP owes Oracle $1.3 billion A federal jury in San Francisco has ordered German software firm SAP to pay its rival, Oracle, $1.3 billion for stealing software and related documents from secure Oracle websites, said Jordan Robertson in the Associated Press. SAP has admitted that a now-shuttered subsidiary “was secretly siphoning off instruction manuals and technical specifications for Oracle software” and reselling them to Oracle customers at a discount. The size of the award appeared to surprise SAP, which had set aside only $160 million for damages.
Investigations: Arrest in insider trading caseA broad federal investigation into insider trading has yielded its first arrest, said Dan Primack in CNNmoney.com. Federal authorities last week arrested Don Chu, an employee of Primary Global Research, one of the so-called expert networks that are a focus of a sweeping investigation into insider trading in market-moving data. Chu allegedly paid employees of public companies to pass earnings information to designated hedge-fund traders. Expert networks sell access to corporate employees and data to hedge funds and other firms looking for a trading edge.