Week's Winners & Losers: Sysco Eats a Rival; Martha Does DIY Layoffs
Sysco (SYY) -- Winner
Leave it to a food company to eat the competition. Sysco is the country's largest food service company, providing restaurants, schools, and other institutions with their edibles. It's about to get bigger. Sysco kicked off the week by announcing a deal valued at $3.5 billion in cash and stock for its nearest competitor, US Foods.
There isn't likely to be a lot of regulatory hassle over the combination. This is a highly fragmented sector, with Sysco commanding just 18 percent of the overall market. It will be 27 percent after completing the deal. Given the nature of the business, there are advantages of being big, and Sysco is about to get substantially bigger at a reasonable price relative to its own valuation.
lululemon athletica (LULU) -- Loser
Shares of Lululemon stumbled 12 percent on Thursday after the retailer of high-end yoga apparel offered up a gloomy outlook for the holiday quarter. The Canadian chain spooked investors by forecasting flat comparable-store sales for the period. Its profit guidance also fell short of expectations. For a hot growth stock like Lululemon, proving ordinary after years of heady store-level sales growth isn't enough.
Ford (F) -- Winner
Things have been going well for automakers, and things are about to get even better for Ford. The popular automaker revealed in a presentation on Thursday that it plans to hire 3,000 salaried workers in 2014 -- and we're not talking about low-paying jobs here. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Most of these new jobs will be in engineering and product development. Ford is also opening three plants overseas, but the stateside job creation will be significant.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) -- Loser
Martha Stewart has carved a cozy living providing holiday advice, but this time the company that bears her name is being a bit of a Grinch. The New York Post reported that the lifestyle media company is laying off roughly 100 employees this week, including several executives. The Wall Street Journal later reported that it was closer to 70 employees being dismissed, but that's still 14 percent of its workforce.
DineEquity (DIN) -- Winner
Applebee's is raising the bar in casual-dining tech. DineEquity's popular restaurant chain will be ordering 100,000 tablets so that every table will have an Applebee's tablet by the end of next year.
Customers will be able to order right from the tablet, and when it's time to pay, they can simply swipe their credit card on it, too. No more waiting for your waiter. This seems like a great way to get people in and out quickly and spend more along the way, but we won't have to wait for Applebee's to show that. The company providing the tablets claims that the device has resulted in tables ordering 10 percent more, and that guests can get out seven minutes faster.
Throwback patrons can still order and pay the old-fashioned way; Applebee's is still keeping its servers around. However, here's a case where technology is a win-win for customers and the operator.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Ford, lululemon athletica, and Sysco. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.