Market Morning: Grey Friday, Impossible Whopper Lawsuit, Apollo Wins Tech Data

Stock Market Roundup

Black Friday Turns Grety as Brick & Mortar Falls to Online Shopping

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More online sales were logged on Black Friday than at brick and mortar retailers according to preliminary data, though the day was still the busiest shopping day of the year. Store traffic on Thanksgiving evening itself though grew, which itself hurts Black Friday sales but probably not total sales for the weekend. Online sales grew about 20% for a total of $7.4 billion, just below the $7.6 billion estimate. Thanksgiving sales grew 14.5% to $4.2 billion.  Thanksgiving traffic was up 2.3%, and Black Friday traffic was down 6.2% for a year ago. Statistics could be misleading though, since the practice of buying online and picking up at the store is not considered store traffic, but rather an online sale.

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One retailer that had a particularly bad day though was Costco (NASDAQ:COST), due to a traffic overload on its website that affected 2.65 million users for about 16 hours. Costco believes that could have lost about 11 million in sales due to the glitch. Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD) also encountered website problems though not as serious as Costco’s.

Burger King’s Impossible Whopper Gets Sued By Vegan

Burger King, subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International (NYSE:QSR), is having an impossible problem with one of its burgers. The Impossible Whopper, touted as 100% whopper 0% beef, is under fire after a vegan who ordered and ate one found out that it is cooked on the same broiler as other beef burgers, and is therefore coated in beef juice. The patron is now suing the restaurant for false advertising. One Bloomberg opinionater believes that the ruling could have serious implications for Burger King, as the Impossible offering has helped fuel sales growth, but even if Burger King loses the suit and the Impossible Whopper is declared meat if cooked on a meat broiler, Burger King can always cook the burgers separately and call it a day. The author cites an interesting case from back in 2003 where a woman lost a suit in which she claimed a medical company assured her that a tuberculosis vaccine was vegan-friendly when it contained animal products. She lost the suit because her claims were considered idiosyncratic, but now that veganism is more popular that reasoning may no longer hold. We may now start to see a more regulated and streamlined code as to what constitutes “vegan-friendly”.

Apollo Outbids Berkshire For Tech Data

Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) has reportedly outbid Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-B) for the software firm Tech Data (NASDAQ:TECD). Apollo had offered $130 a share, Berkshire countered with $140, and finally Apollo came back with $145 and won. Buffett’s company now has $128 billion in cash burning a big hole in its pocket after Buffett wrote that he is hoping for “an elephant-sized acquisition”. Berkshire owns shares in Southwest, Delta, American and United Airlines, and there are rumors he may want to buy beleaguered California utility PG&E (NYSE:PCG).

Facebook Kowtows to Singaporean Fake News Law

A new Singapore law forces Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) to issue notices attached to posts that the Singaporean government claims disseminate false information. Facebook issued its first correction to such a request on Saturday. Attached to the correction is a disclaimer that “Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information,” but no alterations to the post itself were made. Whether people care what the Singapore government says is a different matter, so the law may have no purpose in the end. The post contained accusations about the arrest of a whistleblower and alleged election rigging. The country is about to go through general elections, so this is a touchy subject and the bully pulpit gets to determine what it thinks is true. The writer of the post was contacted by the Singapore authorities but since he doesn’t live in Singapore and is an Australian citizen, Singapore couldn’t take down the post and instead had to settle for a Facebook notice. Facebook was a bit apprehensive about the new legal requirement in its statement about the incident. “As it is early days of the law coming into effect, we hope the Singapore government’s assurances that it will not impact free expression will lead to a measured and transparent approach to implementation.”

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