Top 10 Stories Of 2018 Prove To Be A Motley Collection

The only way to sum up the news that drew the most interest from readers in 2018 is to say it was a little bit of this and a little bit of that, ranging from corporate restructuring to food trends to the impact of riled-up consumers on controversial sponsorships. Here, then -- starting with No. 10 -- are the stories from the last year that reached the most eyeballs. 

Brrring, Ring, It's Amazon Calling; Here's A Billion For Your Company
Feb. 28

Less than five years ago, Jamie Siminoff couldn’t get the panelists on ABC’s “Shark Tank” to bite on his terms for 10% of his start-up for a $700,000 investment. Yesterday, the Ring founder sold the video doorbot to Amazon for a reported $1 billion plus.



So what, exactly, is Ring, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., and how does it work? Check out the short video of a foiled porch piracy on this tweet.

Ford Doubles Down On Its Investment In An Electrified Future
Jan. 15 

Ford delivered a jolt to the burgeoning electrified vehicle market yesterday by saying that it would invest $11 billion and put 40 EVs on the road by 2022 as the North American International Auto Show got rolling in the Cobo Center in Detroit.

“Ford expects fuel economy and pollution standards to get tougher, ‘and rightfully so,’ said Raj Nair, head of Ford’s North American operations,” Keith Naughton, Ryan Beene and Gabrielle Coppola write for Bloomberg. “‘We believe man-made CO2 is contributing to climate change and we’ve got our part to play.’”

Nestle, Starbucks Brew A $7.15 Billion Deal To Peddle Beans
May 7

Starbucks and Nestlé this morning announced an “alliance” whereby the latter will pay the former $7.15 billion up front “to accelerate and grow the global reach of Starbucks brands” just about everywhere except Starbucks stores themselves. Starbucks retains “a significant stake” in the enterprise going forward. 

“The agreement only covers Starbucks’ packaged goods sold outside the’s stores. It doesn't include Starbucks’ ready-to-drink coffee, tea or juices,” writes Rishi Iyengar for CNN Money

It does include the rights to market, sell, and distribute Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Starbucks Reserve, Teavana, Starbucks VIA and Torrefazione Italia packaged coffee and tea in all global at-home and away-from-home channels.

Hit By The Realities Of The Tax Act, H&R Block Closing 400 Offices
June 14

Like homeowners in states like New York and California who also pay high state and local taxes, H&R Block is not expected to do as well as others may under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress last December. On Tuesday, it said it expected revenue to drop in fiscal 2019, sending its shares plunging 18% yesterday. Block CEO Jeffrey Jones also said the company would close about 400 of its company-owned retail locations, although he does not anticipate any layoffs.

“On the post-earnings-report conference call with analysts, chief financial officer Tony Brown said fiscal 2019 revenue was expected to be between $3.05 billion and $3.1 billion, according to a transcript provided by FactSet. That was below 2018’s $3.16 billion, as well as the FactSet analyst consensus as of May 31 of $3.14 billion,” writes Tomi Kilgore for MarketWatch.

P&G Restructuring Into 6 Business Units, Names Moeller COO
Nov. 9

As part of its mission of “constructive disruption,” Procter & Gamble yesterday said at its annual investor meeting that it will reorganize next July into six “sector business units” (SBUs) from the previous 10 “product categories,” each with its own CEO reporting to chairman, president and CEO David Taylor. 

P&G also added the vice chairman and COO titles to CFO Jon Moeller’s CV, making him the companywide No. 2. Moeller will also oversee the markets not directly managed within the new SBUs. 

Brands Drop NRA Co-Branding Programs After Customers Protest
Feb. 23

Following the lead of students nationwide inspired by the activism of survivors of the Parkland massacre and citing “customer feedback,” the First National Bank of Omaha stood up to the National Rifle Association yesterday, saying that it would not renew the contract for its NRA-branded Visa card. That news was followed by Enterprise Holdings, which controls the Alamo, National and Enterprise car rental brands, announcing that it would stop offering NRA-member discounts.

A Victoria's Secret CEO Departs As Company Reels From CMO's Remarks
Nov. 15

Victoria’s Secret Lingerie and its CEO -- Jan Singer, the former Spanx CEO and Nike executive who came in to run the L Brands division two years ago -- reportedly are parting ways.

The company is expected to share more details about Singer’s departure on Monday when L Brands releases its quarterly earnings, a source tells CNBC’s Lauren Thomas, who reports it’s not immediately clear who will replace her.

Study Finds Food Quality Matters For Weight Loss, Not Calories
Feb. 21

“Low Fat!” “Low Carbs!” “Low Calories!” Doesn’t matter, and what works for one person may not work for another. A new study that could have a major impact on the way food is produced and marketed finds that the quality of the food ingested trumps all else when it comes to controlling weight.

“We’ve been taught that the key to taking off the pounds is to consume fewer calories than we burn. As it turns out, that may not be the case at all,” writes Emily Price for Fortune. “People who ate plenty of vegetables and whole foods lost significant amounts of weight over the course of the year without restricting the quantity of food that they consumed, according to a new study published in JAMA on Tuesday.”

Barnes & Noble Would Rather Talk About Its New Hire Than Layoffs
Feb. 13

Barnes & Noble is laying off workers following a dismal holiday season but it has hired a new chief merchandising officer and appears intent on focusing on streamlining and revamping for the future.

“Barnes & Noble would not give specifics on the number of employees affected, the types of positions that were cut or the markets that were impacted. But CNBC, citing sources familiar with the matter, said that lead cashiers were among the workers to lose their jobs, with many employees learning they’d been laid off when they showed up for work Monday,”  writes Charisse Jones for USA Today.

And here's No. 1 on the list:

Sprint Enticing Competitors' Patrons With $15 Unlimited Data Plan
June 11

Even as its proposed merger with T-Mobile is under review by federal regulators, Sprint is offering a $15-a-month-per-line unlimited data plan to lure customers from its competitors, including the “Uncarrier.” The Overland Park, Kan.-based carrier rolled out its Unlimited Kickstart special promotion on Thursday with the warning that “just like summer, this offer won’t last long.”

That translates to “weeks, not months,” Allan Samson, Sprint’s SVP of acquisition, tells CNET’s Roger Cheng, who writes that the promotion “is the cheapest offer for an unlimited data plan, undercutting even the low-cost prepaid carriers and underscoring Sprint’s aggressive push to lure you in. While competition among the carriers remains fierce, the lack of new significant promotions over the last few months suggested a return to normalcy. But Sprint, under new CEO Michel Combes, looks to be stirring things up again.”

As for the least-read “Top of the News” story of the year, it features one of those hedge fund guys everyone loves to revile (unless they have a vested interest). It was published the Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend, and it proclaimed good news all around. Who wants to read good news?

Campbell Close To Truce With Loeb After Better-Than-Expected Results
Nov. 26

Campbell Soup and Third Point are reportedly near a deal to give the activist hedge fund led by Daniel Loeb two seats on its board of directors and a say in picking the next chief executive following months of verbal and legal acrimony.

With the market tanking, fingers wagging and The Donald ensconced in the White House watching Fox News, there’s sure to be plenty of verbal and legal acrimony to keep us all occupied in 2019.

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