Sunday, August 6, 2017

Amazon shadow looms over retailers; Darjeeling tea faces political turmoil; Niekerk aims to be next Bolt

1 Amazon shadow looms over retailers (Khaleej Times) As old and new competitors gear up to report earnings, investors are eager to know how they plan to withstand the growth of the No.1 online retailer.

So far this quarter, Amazon has been brought up in some 130 earnings calls from S&P 1500 components according to a Reuters analysis. More than 30 firms reporting earnings in the following weeks mentioned Amazon during their most recent earnings call or were directly asked about threats or opportunities regarding Amazon's growth.

"Any retailer, whether it's an online retailer or has online presence, or just brick-and-mortar, that tells you they're not concerned about Amazon, they're either in denial or lying," said Steven Osinski, marketing lecturer at the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University.

Beyond retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, and following Amazon's planned acquisition of Whole Foods Market announced mid June, expect Amazon to pop up on earnings calls from food producers, packagers and retailers.

In a sign of Amazon's widening clout, industry bellwethers like McDonald's, 3M and Johnson & Johnson in their latest earnings calls were asked for the first time about effects of Amazon on their businesses.

2 Darjeeling tea faces political turmoil (Soutik Biswas on BBC) If you are a tea connoisseur, here's some bad news: your morning cuppa of steaming Darjeeling tea may soon be difficult to get.
Famously called the "champagne of teas", it is grown in 87 gardens in the foothills of the Himalayas in Darjeeling in West Bengal state. Some of the bushes are as old as 150 years and were introduced to the region by a Scottish surgeon. The tea tots up nearly $80m in annual sales.

Darjeeling tea is also one of the world's more expensive - some of it has fetched prices of up to $850 per kg. The tea is also India's first Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) product. Since June, Darjeeling has been hit by violent protests and prolonged strikes in support of a campaign by a local party demanding a separate state for the area's majority Nepali-speaking Gorkha community.

The upshot: some 100,000 workers - permanent and temporary - working in the gardens have halted work. Production has been severely hit. Only a third of last year's crop of 8.32 million kg had been harvested when work stopped in June. If the trouble continues, garden owners say they are staring at losses amounting to nearly $40m.

3 Niekerk aims to be next Bolt (Johannesburg Times) Wayde van Niekerk, the athlete identified by Usain Bolt as the next trailblazer for global athletics, is adamant that he is not afraid to take over the responsibility of being the face of his sport.

The day after Bolt had lavished him with praise, the South African Van Niekerk said that he was not intimidated by the expectations being heaped upon him before the World Athletics Championships.
It is perfectly possible that the 25-year-old could upstage Bolt in the Jamaican's final championship by pulling off a 200 metres/400 metres double that has not been achieved since Michael Johnson in Gothenburg in 1995.

Van Niekerk is also being tipped to threaten the 400m world record of 43.03 seconds that he took from Johnson at the Olympic Games last year. "It's one thing someone saying I can be the next big thing," Van Niekerk said of Bolt's words of praise. "But it's another thing working towards that greatness.

"I'm not intimidated (by the responsibility), you can't be. This is track and field, this is a dream I need to fight for -- and I need to fight for it as hard as I can." Van Niekerk joked that he was expecting an invoice from Bolt for all the advice and encouragement the peerless sprinter had given him.

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