Week's Winners and Losers: Whole Foods Prices, Kroger Entices

Apple-Taylor Swift-Future of Streaming
John Davisson/Invision/APApple's abrupt about-face on paying royalties for songs during a free-trial period for its new music service was a symbolic victory for superstar Taylor Swift and other artists.
There were plenty of winners and losers this week, with a supermarket store operator delighting the market with a payout hike while another came under fire for potentially overcharging its customers.

Apple (AAPL) -- Winner

It could've been a challenging week for Apple. Taylor Swift had announced that she was pulling her wildly popular "1989" album from the upcoming Apple Music service. Swift argued -- just as many less famous artists have contested -- that Apple's policy not to pay royalties for subscribers during the generous three-month free trial is wrong: It puts the burden of Apple Music's acquisition costs on the artists when it should be on the consumer tech giant itself.

Apple agreed. It reversed its decision, agreeing to pay music royalties during the free trials. Swift then announced during the week that "1989" will be available on Apple Music when it launches later this month. Apple turned negative publicity into positive free advertising, and there are no royalties that need to be shelled out for that particular victory.

Lululemon Athletica (LULU) -- Loser

There's another recall at Lululemon, but this time it's not as embarrassing as the 2013 recall of black Luon yoga pants because they were see-through when some wearers engaged in certain yoga positions. The chain of high-end fitness apparel is recalling the elastic drawstrings of its hoodies after a few customers have complained of injuries or near injuries resulting from the hard tips snapping back.

It may not seem like much, but it could be a pretty serious issue if one of those hard tips swings back and hits an eye. At the end of the day, it's another recall for Lululemon, and that's not welcome news given the premium that shoppers pay to own the chain's luxury-priced athletic apparel.

Netflix (NFLX) -- Winner

Shares of Netflix hit another all-time high after it announced a 7-for-1 stock split. Stocks moving higher on a stock split may be silly, since it's a zero-sum game. However, the split does make the stock more accessible to folks with limited funds to establish a position in the leading premium streaming service.

A couple of analysts downgraded Netflix after the pop on valuation concerns, but one analyst made a bold forecast. FBR & Co. relied on usage data on Netflix and its 40 percent compound annual growth rate to forecast that Netflix will have a larger daily audience than all broadcast networks within a year. Netflix is a pretty big deal.

Whole Foods Market (WFM) -- Loser

Markups may not be natural at Whole Foods. The high-end grocer specializing in organics came under fire this week on accusations that it's overcharging its well-heeled clientele in New York City.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is alleging that the supermarket is overpricing customers on some of its pre-packaged foods, and was troubled to find that the New York City stores continued to overcharge even after being told that it was under investigation late last year.

This naturally doesn't help the previously golden reputation of Whole Foods. It also comes at a time shortly after Whole Foods announced that it will roll out a new concept called 365 next year, stocking lower-priced organic merchandise in an effort to reach jaded millennials.

Kroger (KR) -- Winner

We've covered a grocer and a stock split, so let's wrap things up with a story that combines the two. Kroger announced a stock split. The giant supermarket chain also hiked its dividend, and announced an ambitious buyback plan. Now that is how you stock the shelves in your favor.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple, Lululemon Athletica, Netflix and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Looking for a winner for your portfolio? Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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