Financial
Kroger's profit tops Wall Street expectations PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:51

NEW YORK (AP) — Kroger reported a better-than-expected profit for its fourth quarter Thursday as the nation's largest supermarket operator saw a key sales figure rise.

The Cincinnati-based company, which also operates Ralphs and Fry's, has fared better than its peers in adapting to a shifting supermarket landscape that is facing intensifying competition. In particular, people are getting their groceries from a wider variety of places, including big-box retailers like Target, specialty chains like Whole Foods, drugstores and dollar stores.

To keep pace, Kroger has adapted its store formats, developing both larger and smaller locations to compete in different segments of the market. It's also trying to improve the in-store experience, whether it's by expanding specialty food sections or shortening wait times at check-out.

For the period ending Feb. 1, Kroger Co. said sales at established locations rose 4.3 percent, excluding fuel.

By comparison, Safeway last month said the figure rose 1.6 percent in its latest quarter. Safeway, based in Pleasanton, Calif., has also said it's in talks to put itself up for sale amid ongoing consolidation in the industry.

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Silicon Valley boom eludes many, drives income gap PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:46

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Arwin Buditom guards some of the most successful high-tech firms in America. Joseph Farfan keeps their heat, air and electric systems humming. But these workers and tens of thousands like them who help fuel the Silicon Valley's tech boom can't even make ends meet anymore. Buditom rooms with his sister an hour's drive from work. Farfan gets his groceries at a food pantry.

"It's unbelievable until you're in the middle of it," Farfan said, standing in line at the Sacred Heart Community Center in San Jose for free pasta, rice and vegetables. "Then the reality hits you."

Silicon Valley is entering a fifth year of unfettered growth. The median household income is $90,000, according to the Census Bureau. The average single-family home sells for about $1 million. The airport is adding an $82 million private jet center.

But the river of money flowing through this 1,800-square-mile peninsula, stretching from south of San Francisco to San Jose, has also driven housing costs to double in the past five years while wages for low- and middle-skilled workers are stagnant. Nurses, preschool teachers, security guards and landscapers commute for hours from less-expensive inland suburbs.

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Staples to shutter 225 stores as sales move online PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:11

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) — Staples will close up to 225 stores in North America by the end of next year as it seeks to trim about $500 million in costs annually by 2015.

The nation's largest office-supply retailer said Thursday that nearly half of its sales are now generated online, so it will aggressively cut costs to become more efficient.

Company shares dropped more than 10 percent before markets opened.

The recession did heavy damage to the industry, which is now under increasing pressure from online retailers as well as discount stores.

There is rapid consolidation under way and rivals Office Depot and OfficeMax just completed a $1.2 billion merger.

But the overhead costs of running 'big box" stores has put companies like Staples under stress.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:17
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House GOP moves to block EPA rules on power plants PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 07:34

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a long-expected skirmish, House Republicans are moving to block President Barack Obama's plan to limit carbon pollution from new power plants.

A bill targeting the power plant rule is slated for a vote on the House floor Thursday as GOP lawmakers fight back against what they call the Obama administration's "war on coal." Obama's proposal, a key part of his plan to fight climate change, would set the first national limits on heat-trapping pollution from future power plants.

A measure sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, chairman of a House subcommittee on energy and power, would require the Environmental Protection Agency to set carbon emissions standards based on technology that has been in use for at least a year. Republicans and some coal-state Democrats say the EPA rule is based on carbon-capturing technology that does not currently exist.

Whitfield called the power plant proposal "one of the most extreme regulations of the Obama administration," adding that it would "make it impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant in America."

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