WAL-MART: A NEW LABEL FOR HEALTHY FOOD
Starting in April, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) plans to reduce the fat, sugar, and sodium levels in 165 of its private-label foods and will more aggressively market other healthy grocery items by labeling them “Great for You.” Wal-Mart consulted with dieticians, nutritionists, the nonprofit Institute of Medicine, and government agencies to come up with the “Great for You” criteria. It’s also working to lower premium prices on healthy foods. For example, Wal-Mart now prices whole wheat pasta the same as regular pasta. As the world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart’s previous sustainability efforts, such as reducing waste from packaging, have created industry-wide reforms.
DIAMOND FOODS: RESTATING PROFITS AFTER AN AUDIT
Diamond Foods (DMND), the maker of Emerald snack nuts and Pop Secret popcorn, will restate earnings for the past two years and replace its CEO and chief financial officer after the board found the company inaccurately accounted for $80 million in payments to walnut growers. The finding may imperil Diamond’s plans to buy the Pringles potato chip business from Procter & Gamble (PG), which has said the sale depended on the favorable resolution of the board’s investigation. Diamond’s shares fell at least 43 percent after the announcement.
VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS: A STREAMING VENTURE WITH REDBOX
Verizon Communications (VZ), looking to take on Netflix (NFLX), is setting up its own video streaming service with Redbox (CSTR), the DVD-rental business with more than 34,000 kiosks nationwide. Verizon will take a 65 percent stake in a new joint venture with Redbox’s parent company, Coinstar, which gets the remaining 35 percent. Verizon says it will secure streaming rights with content providers, though the company wouldn’t say if the new offering will focus on feature films or TV shows. The service will debut in the second half of the year.
NOKIA: PHONE ASSEMBLY MOVES TO ASIA
Nokia (NOK) is eliminating 4,000 jobs as it shifts more manufacturing to Asia. Its factories in Hungary, Mexico, and Finland—which is home to Nokia’s oldest plant—will concentrate on final adjustments to handsets. Most of the production and assembly work will move to factories in Beijing and South Korea. Nokia, which gets more than 80 percent of its unit sales from low-end phones, has nine handset factories, including one it’s building in Hanoi, Vietnam. Workers will receive severance packages and 12 months of training for new jobs.
SIEMENS: PERSONALIZING DRUG THERAPIES
Siemens (SI) is wading into the multibillion-dollar field of personalized medicine by partnering with two drugmakers to develop genetic tests that will determine which patients will respond best to specific drug therapies. One of the drugmakers, ViiV Healthcare, makes an HIV drug that benefits patients with a particular form of the virus. The other company, Tocagen, has developed an experimental treatment for brain tumors. More than 72 personalized therapies are available today, a fivefold increase from the 13 available in 2006.