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Business briefs: J.C. Penney says it's off to strong holiday start

  • December 3, 2013 - 10:53 PM

J.C. Penney says it’s off to strong holiday start

J.C. Penney Co. says a key sales measure jumped 10.1 percent in November, helped by a strong start to the holiday shopping season. The Plano, Texas-based company’s stock rose 5 percent in after-hours trading. J.C. Penney said revenue from stores open for at least a year improved because of its merchandise selection and promotions despite a competitive retail environment. The figure is a closely watched indicator of financial performance because it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores. The retailer also said that its online sales were strong and were running well ahead of last year.

Newsweek plans to resume print publication

Newsweek, the struggling weekly magazine that ceased print publication last year, plans to turn the presses back on. The magazine will begin a 64-page, weekly edition in January or February, said Jim Impoco, Newsweek’s editor in chief. He said in an interview that Newsweek would depend more heavily on subscribers than advertisers to pay its bills and that readers would pay more for Newsweek than in the past. “It’s going to be a more subscription-based model, closer to what the Economist is,” Impoco said. “We see it as a premium product, a boutique product.” Impoco, who became Newsweek’s editor in September, said that the magazine’s new owner, IBT Media, would not have to spend as much money publishing it as the previous owners.

Frontier Airlines has new owner, strategy

The sale of Frontier Airlines to a company that plans to turn it into an ultra-low-cost airline is a done deal. New owner Indigo Partners has said it will refashion Frontier as an ultra-low-cost airline. Airlines like that, including Spirit Airlines, generally charge low fares but have fees for things like using the overhead bin, or printing a boarding pass at the airport. William Franke, who runs Indigo and used to be Spirit’s chairman, said demand is growing for more affordable airline options. Indigo said Frontier will continue to be based in Denver.

A&F shares climb after big investor urges sale

Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. gained after investor Engaged Capital urged the teen-clothing retailer to start a search for a new chief executive officer and consider selling the company. The shares rose 5.8 percent to close at $35.99 after Engaged Capital said in a letter to Abercrombie’s board that there’s “no qualified successor” to Chief Executive Michael Jeffries, whose contract expires Feb. 1. Jeffries is a “major stumbling block” to a potential sale of the company to private equity, Engaged Capital said. “The board needs to come to the same conclusion that everyone else already has — it is time for new leadership at Abercrombie & Fitch,” Glenn Welling, chief investment officer at Engaged Capital, wrote in the letter.

Good news for Tesla sends shares up 16.5%

After suffering under the weight of two car fires that sparked a federal investigation, Tesla Motors Inc. stock rebounded in a big way after the electric-car maker announced that a German safety inquiry had ended with no concerns and a big-name auto analyst suggested shares were now “undervalued.” Tesla shares ended Tuesday with a price of about $145, a gain of 16.5 percent from Monday’s closing price. The move goes against a downhill ride for Tesla: Since hitting a record intraday high of $194.50 on Sept. 30, Tesla stock had fallen as low as $116.10, a decrease of more than 40 percent. Tesla’s decline has been alternately blamed on concerns about two Model S fires in the United States and the stock’s spectacular rise, which led CEO Elon Musk to admit that Tesla has “a higher valuation than we have any right to deserve.”

Falcone-controlled insurer files for IPO

Fidelity & Guaranty Life, the insurer controlled by billionaire Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Group Inc., filed to raise as much as $185 million by selling a 17.2 percent stake in an initial public offering. The insurer is offering 9.75 million shares for $17 to $19 in a sale led by Credit Suisse Group AG, according to a regulatory filing from the Baltimore-based insurer. At the top of the range, that values the company at $1.08 billion. Falcone, 51, is focused on running Harbinger Group after reaching a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in August that bars him from the hedge-fund industry.

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