December 20, 2017 Market Outlook

Stock Market Boosted by Proposed Corporate Tax Cut

Wall Street received a Christmas cheer on Monday that triggered stocks to surge. The bill that could be signed by President Trump before the holiday and cut taxes for many businesses was the present. The final vote might happen today.

The financial stocks were among the biggest gainers. Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and Wells Fargo (WFC) all rose more than 1% shortly after the opening bell.

The S&P 500 also rose by about 1% and hit an all-time high. The Dow climbed more than 200 points in early trading, or about 1%, and was above 24,850, a record high. And the Nasdaq topped 7,000 for the first time.

Belgian Firm to Acquire Dole

The Belgian fresh and frozen foods company Greenyard NV confirmed a Reuters report that it was in the advanced stages of negotiation to purchase the world’s largest fruit and vegetable producer.

The California-based Dole Food Company is one of the largest producers of bananas and pineapples.  Its value could be more than $2.5 billion, including debt.

Greenyard’s market capitalization is $1.03 billion and has secured appropriate financing to complete the transaction with a balanced financing approach should a conclusive agreement be reached.

Planemakers Collide at U.S. ITC Hearing

Planemakers Boeing Co. and Bombardier Inc. collided on Mondayat the resumption of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) hearing over  Boeing claim that its Canadian rival benefited from billions of dollars in illegal government subsidies and dumped its newest jetliner in the United States at below cost.

During the quarrelsome hearing, the U.S. planemaker accused Bombardier of spoiling its ability to sell 737s in the U.S. market, in one of the final stages of a bitter trade dispute due to conclude in February. The case between the two companies puts the U.S.-Canada trade relations on the spotlight.

Campbell Aims to End Slump with Salty Snacks

After Hershey Co. (HSY) announced a deal to purchase Amplify Snack Brands Inc. (BETR), now comes another packaged-food player entering the M&A scene. Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) is acquiring Snyder’s-Lance Inc. for about $4.9 billion in cash.

Campbell is adding Cape Cod potato chips, Snyder’s pretzels and Pop Secret popcorn to its portfolio. Interestingly, while the industry suffering from weak demand and shifting consumer tastes, Americans still prefer potato chips and pretzels. Canned soup has lost favor with many consumers which caused Campbell’s three-year slump. But the company is now looking to reignite sales with salty snacks.

Printer-Sized Robot Makes Sushi Faster

With rising sushi consumption and growing chef shortage, Autec USA Inc., a company based in Torrance, California, is selling a unique labor-saving automation device. A $14,000 robot, the size of an office printer, can help a food prep worker churn out 200 sushi rolls an hour. The productivity is up from the 50 or so a chef could make by hand.

Chief Executive Officer Taka Tanaka says orders for the robot have quadrupled over five years. Among his prominent customers are Whole Foods Market and Sushirrito, a mini-chain of restaurants that specializes in a burrito-sushi amalgam.

As U.S. labor markets tighten, there is a need to revolutionize. Service industries have lagged other sectors in spending on labor-saving equipment. More U.S. companies are now pouring capital into software and R&D. The sushi robot is just one of them.   

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