Companies in Brief
Nike: Scandals? No Worries. Bogeys? No Way
Fans of Tiger Woods have put up with the philandering, the saucy text messages, and the domestic fallout. They may draw the line, though, at trouble on the fairways and greens. Retailer Golfsmith International reports sales of Tiger Woods' signature line of Nike (NKE) golf clothing are off by 7.5 percent this year while overall golf apparel sales have risen 11 percent. Other golf stores report similar declines. Since his marital troubles emerged last fall, Woods hasn't won a tournament and he's No. 83 on this year's PGA Tour money list.
Apple: Finally, There's An App For Apple TV
A new version of the poor-selling Apple (AAPL) TV set-top box, to be unveiled at a Sept. 1 event in San Francisco, will cost $99, vs. $229 for the current incarnation, says a person familiar with Apple's plans. And the device may run apps like those written for iPhones and iPads. It's all part of a new video strategy aimed at steering more business toward the iTunes store by letting customers watch clips, shows, and movies on multiple Apple devices. Also in the cards: a new iPod touch with a better screen and rentals of TV shows for 99 cents an episode. (Today, shows are only available for purchase, for $1.99.)
DuPont: Closing In on the Biotech Seed Crown
In the battle for the wallets of the American heartland, DuPont (DD) is gaining as farmers question the need for higher-cost seeds from rival Monsanto (MON). DuPont now has 30 percent of the U.S. soybean seed market, vs. Monsanto's 28.5 percent. And DuPont has expanded its share of the corn seed market to 34 percent, closing in on Monsanto's 36 percent. Monsanto, whose innovations have helped increase plantings of genetically modified crops, hasn't seen any growth in U.S. corn and soybean seed sales for the past two years. The company now plans to cut prices and offer seeds with fewer genetic modifications.
China Railway: All Aboard For South Africa
Beijing-based construction giant China Railway Group says it's in talks to build a $30 billion high-speed rail project in South Africa. Driving the 352-mile route between Johannesburg and the eastern port city of Durban can take seven hours, while a high-speed train could complete the trip in roughly three. South Africa hopes Chinese state-owned banks will provide loans for the rail line, China Railway says.
Barnes & Noble: A Brawl Over the Bookseller Heats Up
Barnes & Noble (BKS) reported first-quarter losses of $63 million and an 11th straight quarter of declining sales. The company put itself up for sale on Aug. 3 under pressure from billionaire Ronald Burkle, who has been adding to his stake in the bookseller and is battling management over board nominations. On Aug. 25, B&N management urged investors to reject Burkle's board nominees, saying he and his proposed slate of directors have participated in "some of the most spectacular technology and corporate failures in history." Barnes & Noble shares have lost nearly 25 percent of their value this year.
Foster's: Down Under, Trouble In the Vineyards
Australian beverage giant Foster's posted a second-half loss after a $1.1 billion writedown on its wine division. The company reported a net loss of $725 million for the first half, vs. a net gain of $21 million in the same period last year. After enduring charges of $2.4 billion at the wine unit over the past seven years, the company may soon spin it off, even though business has picked up recently.