Week's Winners, Losers: Target Matches, Whole Foods Slashes

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There were plenty of winners and losers this week, with the country's second-largest discounter getting aggressive in price guarantees for online sales and the country's leading organic grocer handing out pink slips.

Twitter (TWTR) -- Winner

Have you ever started pecking out a tweet, only to find that the character countdown goes negative before you are positive that you've finished? Twitter hears you. The social-media giant is considering scrapping its limit of 140 characters per post, according to tech blog Re/code.

The 140 Plus initiative doesn't mean that folks will have unlimited publishing power. The options that Twitter is weighing reportedly include bumping it to just 150, excluding some aspects of a post such as links and usernames, or creating a rich publishing platform for extended tweets. With user growth slowing, Twitter is right to tweak its platform.

Whole Foods Market (WFM) -- Loser

Things continue to come undone at the leading organic grocer that until recently was a market darling. Whole Foods announced Monday that it would be cutting 1,500 jobs over the next two months. Two days later it revealed that it will take a pre-tax charge of as much as $22 million to cover the layoffs.

It's true that 1,500 jobs may not seem like much for a company with 91,000 employees, but it has to rattle morale at a company that has historically prided itself as a great place to work. Perhaps even more problematic than the layoff is the reason for the pink slips: Whole Foods is trying to shave its overhead so it can deliver lower prices. It may seem honorable for a company to pass on cost savings to its shoppers, but it's also an admission that Whole Foods may not be offering a compelling value to today's organics-hungry consumer.

Target (TGT) -- Winner

It's going to be a competitive holiday shopping season, but Target is getting a jump on the competition. The cheap-chic retailer announced that it's now matching its online prices with those offered at 29 other online stores.

Target is also extending the amount of time that customers can have their prices adjusted. They now have two weeks to request the difference. These moves can always backfire if it's forced to keep up with steep discounts from online retailers with lower cost structures, but these guarantees will give consumers the confidence they need in approaching Target's online storefront in the first place.

Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) -- Loser

It took a while, but Keurig Kold has finally hit the market. Keurig's new machine makes name-brand carbonated beverages, served chilled, no less. That may seem like a winning move, but keep in mind that the machine can only be ordered from Keurig's website, for now.

It also needs to be turned on for at least two hours if you want the beverage to come out chilled. It's also not cheap, with an eight-ounce serving of Coke, Fanta or Canada Dry Ginger Ale costing about $1.25. That's a lot more than the retail price for a larger 12-ounce store-bought can. Then we get to the price tag of the machine itself. Paying $300 for a soda maker may be too rich of an investment for a product that isn't necessarily convenient or cheaper than the traditional way we consume soft drinks.

McDonald's (MCD) -- Winner

It's been easy to kick the world's largest burger chain when it's down, but at least one Wall Street pro thinks that a turnaround is in the works. Credit Suisse (CS) analyst Jason West upgraded the stock this week, boosting his price target from $100 to $112.

West's research shows improving sales at the store level, and that's a pretty big deal since comparable-restaurant sales have been largely negative for nearly two years. The Golden Arches might be shiny again.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Keurig Green Mountain. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Twitter and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool recommends Keurig Green Mountain. John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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