One IPO that is coming: I hit up Chobani's HQ on Wednesday night to check out the company's packaging re-launch. Normally, you wouldn't think new packaging for yogurt (or soda, etc.) is such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But for a brand such as Chobani that made its name on packaging that stood out in aisles, a total reset button is noteworthy. In effect, what I saw (see @BrianSozzi on Twitter for photos) was yet another step by the brand in its road to becoming a public company. The packaging does two things, in my humble yogurt eating view: (1) it gives more of a premium feel to Chobani products, opening the door for pricing power in a crowded aisle -- investors love brands with pricing power; (2) it highlights a brand that is thinking about broadening out beyond yogurt, dips and smoothies -- investors like companies with multiple growth levers (as analysts earning $1 million a year for barking orders to 25-year-old associates would say). Chobani's founder Hamdi Ulukaya didn't downplay the prospect of an initial public offering when I put the question to him earlier this year. When it happens, get ready to buy.
Sears is a rotting corpse: Make no mistake, the disastrous third-quarter results Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) strongly suggest 2018 may be the end for the company. By end, think national headlines describing the chain's history, its downfall and where to find a going-out-of-business sale on a mattress. Here are the disturbing aspects I saw: (1) a same-store sales crash of 15.3% -- Sears sales have taken a fresh turn for the worse as its operational issues led to epic market share loss to Walmart (WMT - Get Report) , Target (TGT - Get Report) and Home Depot (HD - Get Report) ; (2) $200 million in cash on the balance sheet for a capital intensive retailer that will not have a good holiday season, a bad place to be indeed; and (3) a company with $1.9 billion in cash from operations this year, an enormous chunk for a retailer running out of sources for cash. After this quarter, it would be surprising if Sears shares don't lose another 25% in December as investors prepare for several ugly filings from the company in early 2018. You can imagine what those filings will look like ...
Red flag, maybe: Good to see investors are still awake after a year in which making money in the market has been absurdly easy. The CBOE Volatility Index is headed for back-to-back monthly gains for the first time since February 2016, according to Bloomberg data. The VIX is up about 5.1% month to date. Investors pulling money out of ETFs and trying to squeeze those last few pennies out of longs before banking on an early 2018 market plunge? Perhaps -- just check out the sudden downdraft in FANG (Facebook (FB - Get Report) , Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) , Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) and Alphabet (GOOGL - Get Report) ) stocks on Wednesday on "profit-taking." Nevertheless, the spike in volatility is likely a good sign for brokers and banks as it pertains to fourth-quarter earnings.
Expect more calls on bitcoin like this from well-known people that have appeared on business TV shows for last 125 years.
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