Monday, November 30, 2009

Black Friday: Mixed Results Leaves Retailers Wondering

Black Friday attracted an impressive number of holiday shoppers, but the bargain hunters spent less than the average shopper last year.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Black Friday sales came in only slightly above the last year’s Black Friday spending. That would have been encouraging if the shopping spree had continued though the weekend. Unfortunately, the turn-out dropped considerably as the weekend progressed Accordingly, the NFR projects a 1 percent decline in overall holiday sales for this year. Making matters worse, the Wall Street journal reported Videogame sales as being in a slump, and running out of steam before the holiday shopping got underway.

In recent years, Video Games have become the bright spot for retailers’ 4th quarter sales. The hottest games and consoles are used to lure shoppers into stores, which created the opportunity for retailers to entice shoppers to make larger purchases. Although retailers are still using video games as a way to attract consumers, video games and console sales fell nearly 19% in October. It should be noted that the last three months of the year account for over 50% of Video game sales, therefore, October is a good predictor for what can be expected the last quarter.

That being said, the realization that sales may not be what retailers had hoped, they looked to Cyber Monday for enhanced holiday sales. Accordingly, stores shifted their discount focus online. Promotions were in high gear for Cyber Monday in an effort to drive revenues up. Needless to say, competition for online shoppers has accelerated this week. The silver lining comes into view, with on-line results beginning to trriggle in. The numbers came in from Coremetrics (a Marketing Optimization Company) which shows a 35% increase in online shopping this weekend, over last year. This may be just the kind of up-tick retailers need to pull off a great 4th Quarter.

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K. Reilly
Cohn-Reilly Report / News Flash

Bomb Scare on Wall Street

A pedestrian reported a suspicious pacakge laying unattended under the George Washington Statute yesterday. Wall Street was shut down for about 2 hours until NYPD Bomb Squad investigated the situation. An X-ray of the suitcase showed the abandoned case to be empty.

K. Reilly
Cohn-Reilly Report / News Flash

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

CIT Group filed for bankruptcy as of November 1, citing the exposure from subprime mortgages, and credit tightening. CIT, which was founded 101 years ago, is the 6th largest commercial lender, the number one lender for small and mid-sized business, and a leader in funding minority and women owned businesses. The lender’s bankruptcy filing is a pre-packaged plan, structured to exit bankruptcy on a fast track. CIT is making every effort to ensure the customers remain funded, with little or no interruption to their other operating businesses. CIT’s other profitable units, including CIT Bank, were not included in the bankruptcy filing. According to court documents, CIT will have immediate access to $125 million from a total of $500 million in a debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan* from Bank of America. They have also requested are requesting the ability to make intercompany loans, as it makes its way out of bankruptcy, which is expected in early December.
The New York based lender, which funds 1-million businesses, has received $1 billion from investor Carl Icahn, for operating costs while it reorganizes. It doesn’t appear that the government will recover much of the $2.3 billion in bailout funds, which is essentially tax-payer money, and unfortunately share holders will be wiped out according to the bankruptcy plan. Financial institutions don’t have a good record for recovering from bankruptcy, but it looks as though CIT has secured $1 billion in investor funding to support their operation, and the DIP loan from Bank of America and a well thought out exit strategy to beat the odds.
*Debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan, is a special form of financing provided for companies in financial distress or under Chapter 11 bankruptcy process
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K Reilly
Cohn-Reilly Report / News Flash
Note: Political Cartoon illustration by: Denis Elmore