All posts by xialiangzhang2017

A neckwear business rooted in China prospers in Chicago

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

“My daughter was given a Harvard logo shirt a decade ago by the school president, when Becky’s father Arnie mentioned me as the Harvard logo tie manufacturer in China,” said Michael Yin, the proud Chinese supplier of custom-made neckwear for Shop4Ties, a Chicago wholesaler and distributor.

Shop4Ties was founded in 1982 by Arnie Kapp, who quit his job at a tie shop on Michigan Avenue and started the business in a basement.

Becky Galvez, Kapp’s daughter, joined the company in 2011 after teaching Spanish at an international school, and took the reins as CEO with her mother Rhonda Kapp as chief financial officer in 2014 after Kapp passed away from colon cancer.

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FHFA House Price Index up 0.8 percent in January

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

Single-family house prices rose in January 0.8 percent from December, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s seasonally adjusted House Price Index. The rise beat the forecast of a 0.4 percent increase.

From January 2017 to January 2018, house prices rose 7.3 percent, also beating the forecast, of 6.5 percent.

“Home prices have been on an uptrend for a number of years now. The main reason is there are not a lot of inventories available for sale,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, the chief economist at LendingTree, an online brokerage headquartered in North Carolina.

Historical data suggest demand has been normal, but the shortage of supply has played a bigger impact in both new home and existing home markets, according to Kapfidze. He explained, “Home builders haven’t ramped up the production to the level of they were prior to the crisis. There were also difficulties of finding land; cities have regulations on specific types of house one can build.”

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Ulta Beauty posts strong growth, price surges

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

Ulta Beauty Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTA) stock soared 7.6 percent on Friday after the company announced strong fourth quarter results Thursday following market close. Helped by a tax benefit, net income increased 48.5 percent to $208.2 million, or $3.40 per diluted share, compared with $140.2 million, or $2.24 per diluted share, in the same period a year earlier.

“We achieved strong sales and earnings growth in the fourth quarter, while continuing to gain market share and make significant progress on our strategic imperatives,” CEO Mary Dillon said in a prepared statement during the conference call.

Adjusted earnings per diluted share excluding the tax bill benefit were $2.75, missing the analysts’ estimate by 3 cents.

Net sales increased 22.6 percent to $1.94 billion from $1.58 billion in the fourth quarter a year earlier.

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Tokyo vintage boutique covets overseas market

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

Tokyo–Walking around Shibuya, the major commercial ward in Tokyo, one can never find too many trend-busters and street stylists. This is also a paradise for fanatic devotees of vintage fashions.

Tucked away in a backstreet sits the 5-year-old boutique Vintage Qoo. It has the most, 102,000, Instagram followers among similar shops in Tokyo and once dominated the local market for second-hand Chanel goods, though there’s competition now.

“With the three stores in Tokyo, Osaka and Hong Kong, we are the largest vintage boutique in Japan since 2009, and currently in discussion to open another store in Los Angeles this year,” said the store founder Junna Mori, translated by Yukino Sakai, a personal shopper on the staff.

Yukino Sakai, store employee, is explaining the vintage accessories collection.

The store’s public relations manager, Tiffany Gu, said Vintage Qoo has an annual revenue of roughly 1 billion yen ($9.4 million) on average.

Chinese tourists, inspired by influential WeChat fashion bloggers Becky’s Fantasy and Shiliupo, each having over 10,000 readers, and overseas shopping advice app Xiaohongshu, seem determined to splurge on designer bags during their trip to Japan, according to Gu.

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JD.com posts another loss, stock falls

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

Shares of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. (NYSC: JD) dropped 5 percent Monday after the release of continuing sluggish results on Friday.

The company reported a fourth quarter net loss of $139.7 million, or 10 cents per diluted share, down 27.9 percent compared to the same period year earlier. Technology-heavy investments in an artificial intelligence initiative with Stanford University and in big-data cloud-based solutions hiked expenses by 74.5 percent to $300 million.

But revenue jumped to $16.9 billion, up 38.7 percent.

Delivery technologies including drones, robots and automated warehouses will put JD Logistics at the forefront of “operational efficiency and technical sophistication,” said CEO Richard Liu in a conference call.

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John Bean Technologies posts strong quarter but stock dives

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

John Bean Technologies Corp. (NYSE: JBT), a Chicago-based technology solutions provider to food and air transportation industries, topped Wall Street’s earnings estimate but, surprisingly, its high-flying stock plummeted more than 8 percent.

Net income in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 decreased to $19.4 million, or 60 cents per diluted share, from $23.1 million, or 77 cents per diluted share, in the year-earlier quarter, but that was caused by a one-time charge of $15.5 million resulting from the 2017 tax law. Adjusted per-share earnings were $1.10 compared with Wall Street’s estimate of $1.08.

Revenue climbed 19 percent to $483.7 million from $405 million.

Even after its decline, the stock is priced at 41 times trailing 12-months earnings, well above the S&P 500 P/E of 25.

Acquisitions comprised 11 percent of JBT’s 19 percent annual revenue growth, compared with 6 percent organic growth. “Acquisitions remain a key element of our growth strategy,” said CEO Thomas Giacomini in the conference call.

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LSC misses estimate, shares drop

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

Shares of commercial printer LSC Communications Inc. (NYSE: LKSD), one of two spinoffs from R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co., plummeted 7 percent as adjusted earnings missed Wall Street’s estimate and the company reported a GAAP net loss of $58 million, or $1.68 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with net income of $9 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2016.

But sales increased 8.7 percent to $999 million from $919 in the year-earlier period, boosted by recent acquisitions of a supply chain solutions provider The Clark Group and a producer of envelopes and mailing supplies Quality Park.

The net loss was largely explained by goodwill impairment charges of $33 million and onetime provisional tax charges of $24 million resulting from the enactment of the 2017 tax reform legislation.

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Westell swings to profit despite revenue drop

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

Westell Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: WSTL), a wireless infrastructure solutions provider, earned $799,000, or 5 cents per diluted share, in its third quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $1.8 million, or 12 cents per share, slightly beating the lone analyst’s estimate of a profit of 3 cents per share, despite a shrinkage of revenue.

In a conference call the company emphasized a sequential improvement from earnings of $720,000 in the prior quarter ended Sept. 30.

Third-quarter revenues declined 8.7 percent to $13.7 million from $15 million in the year-earlier period.

“We generated even higher profit margins and cash flow in a historically low revenue quarter,” said Westell’s interim CEO Kirk Brannock in a prepared statement. “These positive results illustrate the tremendous operating leverage we now have in the business.”

Brannock added in a conference call that sequentially decreasing revenue of the In-Building Wireless segment is expected to be boosted by Westell’s current set of public safety products and growing original equipment manufacturer (OEM) initiatives that will bring certified solutions from third parties to increase market share.

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