CHICAGO, April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Kohlbert Kravis Roberts & Co. (NYSE: KKR), Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Unilever Plc. (NYSE: UL) and Procter and Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG).
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Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:
Toys 'R' Us to Defer IPO
According to insider sources familiar with the situation, Toys 'R' Us – a leading global retailer of dedicated toys and baby products, has deferred its initial public offering (IPO) scheduled for April 2011. The company has reportedly filed for an IPO of about $800 million but is yet to finalize its timing. Toys 'R' Us had earlier planned to file for an IPO in May 2010, but later discarded the plan.
The strategic move is the latest ploy by the string of private equity firms that own Toys 'R' Us, to buy more time to enable the company to recover from a weaker-than-expected holiday sales and get a higher price from the secondary offering at a subsequent date. This in turn would enable the owners to capitalize on their investments by selling their holdings and benefit from the rise in the stock price. In 2005, Toys 'R' Us was acquired by Kohlbert Kravis Roberts & Co. (NYSE: KKR), Bain Capital and Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO) for $6.6 billion.
The business of Toys 'R' Us is highly seasonal with fourth quarter accounting for over 80% of the fiscal net income, primarily due to strong holiday sales. In December 2010, Toys 'R' Us reported a 5.4% growth in total sales in the U.S. with an exclusive range of toys and an increased number of temporary stores that lured holiday shoppers away from No. 1 toy retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT).
The decision to defer the IPO could be a catch-22 situation for Toys 'R' Us. The New Jersey-based toy retailer had reportedly captured more market share from its rivals in 2010 than it had in the last 20 years of its operations. Consequently, some experts felt that this could have been the best possible time to re-launch the IPO to capitalize on its rising popularity, rather than wait for an increase in stock price.
New York-based Vornado Realty is one of the largest real estate investment trusts (REIT) in the U.S., engaged in acquiring, owning and leasing office properties, retail space and temperature-controlled logistics and refrigerated warehouses. Besides its properties, the company also has investments in other REITs, industrial buildings and Toys 'R' Us. Vornado Realty currently owns about 32.7% of Toys 'R' Us.
Vornado Realty has a strong asset portfolio in two of the best long-term office markets in the U.S. – New York City and Washington DC. This provides the company a competitive advantage to continually increase rents. The company also has a healthy balance sheet and adequate liquidity.
We maintain our long-term 'Neutral' rating on Vornado Realty, which currently has a Zacks #3 Rank that translates into a short-term 'Hold' recommendation and indicates that the stock is expected to perform in line with the overall U.S. equity market for the next 1–3 months.
Unilever Honors Chinese Request
Unilever Plc. (NYSE: UL) has acceded to the National Development and Reform Commission's (NDRC) request and postponed the intended hike in prices of shampoos and laundry detergents to combat higher input costs. NDRC is China's top economic planner.
The decision came after a meeting with NDRC last week in which the Anglo-Dutch company was requested to defer the price rise in the back drop of growing unease among Chinese consumers following recent price inflation in many essential commodities.
Unilever along with Procter and Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) had announced it will raise prices of soaps and detergents that are sold to China. Management cited that the price of petroleum, which is the raw material for most of the commodities, of the retail giant, has climbed to more than $100 per barrel.
The shelves of the shops were almost ransacked after the news of the anticipated price increase spread across the country. People went in for hoarding detergents and soaps before the price increase could become effective.
Inflationary pressure has almost become a constant irritant for China in last one year. The consumer price index rose 4.9% y-o-y in February. While the economy is booming in China, food inflation is shrinking household income as spending on food makes up for more than one-third of household spending.
The government has been taking several steps to control the hyperinflation through several monetary policies like raising the lending rates of banks.
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