Consumers sour on yogurt and cereal

Wheaties may be the breakfast of champions. But Wheaties owner General Mills is anything but a champion these days.

General Mills reported quarterly earnings Wednesday that missed forecasts. Shares dipped nearly 5% on the news, and the stock is now down 15% this year.

Overall sales fell 4% at General Mills. It marked the ninth consecutive quarter that revenue had fallen compared with the previous year. The decline also marked the fifteenth quarterly sales drop in the past four years. (Revenue rose ever so slightly in the spring of 2015.)

The big problem for General Mills? Wheaties, Cheerios, Lucky Charms and other General Mills brands are no longer a morning staple for many consumers. Cereal sales fell 7% from a year ago in the U.S. during the quarter, according to the company.

But General Mills has another thing to worry about. Its yogurt sales are plunging too — more than 10% in the quarter.

The company blamed weak demand for its Yoplait Greek and Yoplait Light varieties. Sales of its new Oui by Yoplait French style yogurt were not enough to compensate for the sluggish performance of General Mills’ other yogurt products.

Changing consumer tastes are clearly hurting General Mills as people opt more for healthy products, and those with fewer genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. But it’s not alone. Food companies Kellogg and Conagra have struggled as well. Both stocks are down more than 10% in 2017.

One standout in the industry? General Mills’ rival Post. That cereal company’s shares are up 8% this year and Post is about to get bigger. It announced earlier this week it was buying breakfast sausage maker Bob Evans Farms for $1.5 billion.

But most packaged food giants are out of favor with Wall Street.

Shares of Oreo maker Mondelez and the Warren Buffett-backed Kraft Heinz are down nearly 10% this year too. And all major food companies are contending with a shakeup in the grocery world.

Walmart and Target are focused more on food. That’s brought prices down, which has hurt established supermarket chains like Kroger.

And the pressure may only get worse for General Mills and its rivals now that Amazon has completed its purchase of Whole Foods. Amazon has already started to lower prices at Whole Foods in an attempt to rid the chain of its Whole Paycheck image.

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Consumers sour on yogurt and cereal

Wheaties may be the breakfast of champions. But Wheaties owner General Mills is anything but a champion these days.

General Mills reported quarterly earnings Wednesday that missed forecasts. Shares dipped nearly 5% on the news, and the stock is now down 15% this year.

Overall sales fell 4% at General Mills. It marked the ninth consecutive quarter that revenue had fallen compared with the previous year. The decline also marked the fifteenth quarterly sales drop in the past four years. (Revenue rose ever so slightly in the spring of 2015.)

The big problem for General Mills? Wheaties, Cheerios, Lucky Charms and other General Mills brands are no longer a morning staple for many consumers. Cereal sales fell 7% from a year ago in the U.S. during the quarter, according to the company.

But General Mills has another thing to worry about. Its yogurt sales are plunging too — more than 10% in the quarter.

The company blamed weak demand for its Yoplait Greek and Yoplait Light varieties. Sales of its new Oui by Yoplait French style yogurt were not enough to compensate for the sluggish performance of General Mills’ other yogurt products.

Changing consumer tastes are clearly hurting General Mills as people opt more for healthy products, and those with fewer genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. But it’s not alone. Food companies Kellogg and Conagra have struggled as well. Both stocks are down more than 10% in 2017.

One standout in the industry? General Mills’ rival Post. That cereal company’s shares are up 8% this year and Post is about to get bigger. It announced earlier this week it was buying breakfast sausage maker Bob Evans Farms for $1.5 billion.

But most packaged food giants are out of favor with Wall Street.

Shares of Oreo maker Mondelez and the Warren Buffett-backed Kraft Heinz are down nearly 10% this year too. And all major food companies are contending with a shakeup in the grocery world.

Walmart and Target are focused more on food. That’s brought prices down, which has hurt established supermarket chains like Kroger.

And the pressure may only get worse for General Mills and its rivals now that Amazon has completed its purchase of Whole Foods. Amazon has already started to lower prices at Whole Foods in an attempt to rid the chain of its Whole Paycheck image.

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Bed Bath & Beyond shares plunge after earnings report

Bed Bath & Beyond shares plunged by about 12% in after-hours trading on Tuesday following a disappointing earnings report.

The retailer said its net earnings for the second quarter of fiscal year 2017 were $94.2 million, a significant drop from the $167.3 million it reported for the same period last year. Same-store sales fell by about 2.6% from this time last year.

The company said that while online sales grew by more than 20%, in-store sales have dipped.

The “unfavorable impacts” of restructuring costs and the damage sustained by Hurricane Harvey contributed to the results, Bed Bath & Beyond said in a news release.

The home goods provider is not the only traditional retailer struggling to keep up with online competitors.

Toys ‘R’ Us just filed for bankruptcy, succumbing to mountains of debt it accrued when trying to fight off Amazon and Walmart. The news is troubling or toy makers Hasbro and Mattel, who saw their stocks dip when the bankruptcy was just a rumor.

Across the board, stores are closing at an alarming rate as shoppers lose interest in brick-and-mortar locations. And as bad as things are now, Wall Street thinks things are only going to get worse.

According to analysis by Bespoke Investment Group, investors are more pessimistic about the retail industry now than they have been since September 2008.

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Hamas to end Gaza administrative committee

Paving the way for possible reconciliation between the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas said Sunday it would dissolve the Gaza administrative committee, allowing a unity government to work in its place and agree on general elections.

The move could potentially end a 10-year rift between the West Bank and Gaza that started when Hamas forced the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority out of the coastal enclave in 2007.

Israel and Egypt have since imposed a blockade on Gaza; Egypt intermittently opens its border crossing into Gaza.

The announcement followed indirect negotiations between Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas in Cairo.

The Egyptian General Intelligence Services led the negotiations, according to a Hamas statement released early Sunday.

The move also comes after a series of Palestinian Authority measures designed to pressure Hamas, including reduction of electricity in Gaza and cutting of salaries.

The negotiations were “an expression of Egyptian interest in Palestinian reconciliation and ending the division, and our interest to realize the hopes of the Palestinian people by achieving national unity,” Hamas said.

 

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Hamas to end Gaza administrative committee

Paving the way for possible reconciliation between the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas said Sunday it would dissolve the Gaza administrative committee, allowing a unity government to work in its place and agree on general elections.

The move could potentially end a 10-year rift between the West Bank and Gaza that started when Hamas forced the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority out of the coastal enclave in 2007.

Israel and Egypt have since imposed a blockade on Gaza; Egypt intermittently opens its border crossing into Gaza.

The announcement followed indirect negotiations between Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas in Cairo.

The Egyptian General Intelligence Services led the negotiations, according to a Hamas statement released early Sunday.

The move also comes after a series of Palestinian Authority measures designed to pressure Hamas, including reduction of electricity in Gaza and cutting of salaries.

The negotiations were “an expression of Egyptian interest in Palestinian reconciliation and ending the division, and our interest to realize the hopes of the Palestinian people by achieving national unity,” Hamas said.

 

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Duh? Don’t take selfies with bears, Aspen police say

Don’t take selfies with bears.

That’s the reminder Colorado’s Aspen Police Department issued recently after a crowd surrounded a mama bear and her cubs coming down from a tree near a mall Wednesday, KUSA reported.

It was a “fairly large crowd of photo takers and those that insisted on trying ot get close enough to take selfies,” Sgt. Rob Fabrocini told KUSA.

“We were trying to do the best we can to keep people away, but it’s a large area and people get by us,” Fabrocini told KUSA. “There was a woman holding a child within 5 feet of the bear trying to take a selfie with her back to the bear, which was very aggravating to see that.”

The situation escalated, KUSA reported. People were not only putting themselves and their children in harm’s way, but also endangering the bears, Fabrocini said.

“At one point, (the bears) made a run for it,” Fabrocini told KUSA. “They got away, but people followed them and the mom got separated from the cubs. She returned to the mall, clearly agitated, and crying out, looking for her cubs, and people were still approaching her, getting within 5 or 6 feet of her.”

On Thursday, the bears returned. This time, people kept their distance, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife tranquilized and removed the bears, KUSA reported.

Aspen police issued multiple warnings on Facebook. One was a more playful “selfie strike,” equating the frenzied photographers with paparazzi. The other was more stern.

“These bears went through quite an ordeal last night,” a Sept. 14 post said. “And we’re not quite sure why they decided to go up the same tree today, most comfy branches in town perhaps? But we do know one thing, we could do a better job as a community to set these bears up for success.”

Mobs of selfie seekers have not only angered animals, they’ve caused deaths, according to multiple reports.

A baby dolphin died in August after hundreds of people swarmed it on a Spanish beach and passed it around to take pictures with it, the Washington Post reported. Another dolphin died after a similar situation last year in Argentina. 

Yellowstone National Park had a spate of bison attacks in 2015, in part thanks to tourists getting to close for the animals’ comfort, the Post reported.

A 43-year-old woman was thrown in the air after trying to take a selfie with a bison — and her 6-year-old daughter, the Post reported. A 16-year-old was gored while taking a group photo with her back turned to the animal. When officials arrived to help her, tourists remained within 10 feet of the same bison that injured her.

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