Ulta set for solid fourth quarter results with eye on making-over stores

By Bethel Habte

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. doesn’t need to cover up. The 25-year-old retailer based in Bolingbrook, Illinois is poised to produce another strong earnings report Thursday.

Reflecting robust performance, the stock has ranged from $83.54 to $143.69 in the past 52 weeks and closed near its peak on Tuesday at $140.47. The stock’s price-to-earnings ratio is a potent 37.56 compared to the S&P 500’s 20.50.

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GMOs: The scarlet letters of the grocery aisle?

By Shanley Chien

You walk down the aisles at Whole Foods spotting milk, cookies, pasta, and a variety of other products with the “Non-GMO Project Verified” label. The label tells you the foods don’t contain genetically modified organisms  – GMOs.

But the image of a butterfly sitting on a blade of grass shaped like a check mark subconsciously reassures you that this product is “safe.” After all, if it’s safe enough for a butterfly, it’s safe enough for you and your family. You put it in your basket, perhaps because people like Dr. Oz and food blogger Vani Hari of Food Babe tell you GMOs are unhealthy.

GMOs add to the nutritional value and preservation of foods and most scientists vouch for their safety. But critics abound.

“We have the whole government working against us,” Hari said in an interview on the Carolina Connection Talk Radio. “They don’t want Americans to figure out that these could be causing health issues, that they haven’t been tested, and they are increasing pesticide and herbicide use.”

Organizations and advocacy groups such as the Non-GMO Project, Dr. Oz, Food Babe, and other anti-GMO crusaders say GMOs are unnatural and unhealthy, according to their websites. Continue reading

Small plates trend remains strong

By Alysha Khan

Sometimes big trends come on small plates.

Over the past decade, the concept of small plates has expanded from a curiosity to a strong trend that is currently spreading to everything from coffee shops to national chains.

Small plates are shareable portions that give customers a chance to sample more menu items and chefs more culinary freedom.

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Illinois Tool Works prospects dampened by slow revenue outlook

By Meredith Wilson

Analysts are confident that Glenview-based Illinois Tool Works Inc. will continue to post profits in the coming years, but are concerned with the long-term feasibility of the company’s current growth plan, a reversal of its historic rapid-acquisition policy.

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Online crowdfunding helps self-publishers make their mark in print

By Elizabeth Elving

On Valentine’s Day the members of the Soon-To-Be-Pretentious Writers Club were scattered throughout the Harold Washington Library Center judging books by their covers. Once a month, the writers meet at the library, comb the shelves for books that appear compelling, and write original stories based on their selections. After a year of meetings, founder Greg Fairbank decided they had enough material to publish their own magazine.

“Ever since we started, I wanted to do a culminating work,” Fairbank said. “Having an end goal in mind is inspiring.”

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Analysts hopeful of change under new McDonald’s Corp. CEO

By Alysha Khan

McDonald’s Corp. new CEO Steve Easterbrook took office March 1 and security analysts are cautiously hopeful that he will be able to revive the struggling fast-food giant.

“It’s going to take time for Steve to put his imprint on things,” said Jack Russo, senior analyst at Edward Jones.

The stock currently has a 67.7 percent hold rating from analysts, 22.6 percent buy rating, and a 9.7 percent sell rating. Only three of the 29 analysts covering the company changed their ratings after the announcement.

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New startup pulls Magic out of hat, analysts fear a disappearing act

By Laura Furr

This past Saturday night around 11 o’clock, 27-year-old Niels van Galen came home from the gym with a craving for Asian cuisine.

Van Galen wanted to make a to-go delivery order to his home in Palo Alto, California, but all delivery services in his area had stopped taking requests at 10 p.m.

On a whim, van Galen tried the new “deliver-me-anything” SMS-based service he had heard about from a friend, appropriately named Magic. Within the hour, he was eating chicken curry for two. Continue reading

Chicago area rents drop but save tenants little

By Stephanie Choporis

Cook County residents can expect little change to median rent prices of all properties due to inflation and potential leveling off despite a recent dip in costs, according to experts.

Among the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S., Zillow’s senior economist, Skylar Olsen, said Cook County, also referred to as metro Chicago, fell from 14th highest median rents of all properties in 2012 to 15th highest in 2015. But Olsen said the decrease does little to offset years of inflation. Continue reading

Local fashion designer, new mom expands business to Shanghai

By Mallory Hughes

Native Chicago designer Christina Fan is hoping to change the way women wear furs.

In 2008, Fan designed and launched C/FAN, a women’s wear collection, out of her apartment in Wicker Park. Responding to demand, the line quickly evolved into a contemporary fur accessories brand, featuring hats, scarves, vests and sweatshirts made from rabbit, lamb, fox and raccoon.

“It was born out of necessity due to our weather,” Fan said. “I wanted to offer something that was playful, season-less and easy to wear.” Continue reading

Chicago Fed president: freeze rates until 2016

By Lucy Ren

Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said the Fed should “hold off on raising short–term rates until 2016” in order to achieve the 2 percent inflation objective.
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