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Dr Pepper/PepsiCo Deal Won’t Affect Branding

PepsiCo Inc. has agreed to pay Dr Pepper Snapple Group $900 million to take over some of DPSG’s bottling operations, but it won’t affect the marketing of either brand.

According to the AP, “the agreement allows PepsiCo to distribute Dr Pepper, Crush and Schweppes in parts of the U.S. where PepsiCo bottlers used to distribute them” but “Under the FTC’s condition, PepsiCo must […] set up a ‘firewall’ to make sure PepsiCo employees will not see commercially sensitive information about Dr Pepper such as marketing and branding plans.”

Dr Pepper completes PepsiCo licensing deal [AP]

Peanuts! Get Your Peanuts Here!

Potentially big news from several news outlets, which are reporting that E.W. Scripps is considering selling off United Media Licensing, home to the Peanuts and Dilbert brands.

E.W. Scripps President and CEO Rich Boehne attempted to downplay the news while acknowledging that such announcements are often just first steps to sales. “We recognize that ‘exploring strategic options’ often is a euphemism for ‘sale,’ but this truly is an exercise to determine if these properties would be more valuable with another owner,” he said in a statement.

News of the possible sale, combined with strong fourth quarter results company-wide, sent Scripps stock up four percent this afternoon according to the Business Courier of Cincinnati, Scripps’ hometown. The traditionally-strong licensing business saw a 10 percent revenue decline in 2009 and a 15 percent decline in Q4, the Courier said.

If no sale was reached, Boehne pledged to “continue to nurture the characters as we have for decades.”

United Media’s global brand portfolio includes of Peanuts, Dilbert, and Raggedy Ann and Andy. It represents brands including Deadliest Catch, Dirty Dancing, and Fancy Nancy in the U.S. and Canada.

E.W. Scripps Mulls Selling ‘Peanuts,’ ‘Dilbert’ Character Licensing Business [E&P]
Scripps stock jumps on 4Q results, possible licensing unit sale [Business Courier of Cincinnati]
Brands [United Media Licensing]

January Retail Sales Continue Slow Road to Recovery

Post holiday sales and gift cards helped consumers open up their wallets to take advantage of special deals on popular apparel, electronics, and sporting goods items. According to the National Retail Federation, January retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 0.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
January retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over December and 3.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Retailers offered special deals aimed at enticing shoppers to hit the stores to use gift cards they received over the holiday season and stock up on clearance items.
Sales at electronics and appliance stores increased 1.2 percent seasonally adjusted and decreased 7.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Clothing and clothing accessory store sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 1.7 percent unadjusted from January 2009. Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores also saw solid increases, with sales jumping 1.0 percent seasonally adjusted from December and 5.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Sales at health and personal care stores increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 2.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year. The housing market is still showing signs of uncertainty as sales at furniture and home furnishing stores fell 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and 6.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Cyber Monday Sales Up 14%?

CNN Money is reporting that Cyber Monday sales were up 14% from last year, which is a good sign for the economy—though how good is unclear the moment. With total Black Friday and Saturday sales up .9%, according to ShopperTrek (via the Chicago Tribune), the 14% jump in online purchases certainly shows that sales are high enough not to cause too much of a panic, in the industry as a whole. The question is how much of the online shopping has permanently replaced in-store shopping. Were Black Friday sales up .5% because the economy was bad, or because people preferred to shop online? This is one of those cases where we’ll know more next year. If in-store shopping returns to a healthier rate of growth (at least 3%, and that’s modest) and online shopping continues to grow at around 14%, it’s a sign that the main factor was the economy. But if online shopping grows by less than 14% (within a few points) next year, we can be sure that people used Cyber Monday to replace Black Friday, not supplement it.

Make no mistake, though—this is good news.

There’s already one winner today

MediaBistro’s GalleyCat blog is reporting that Amazon.com’s stock has hit record heights on Cyber Monday. See, everything is fine! Or good enough. But seriously, this may lend some credence to the “It rained in the Northeast, and that’s why Black Friday sales were relatively low” theory. Obviously we’ll know more tomorrow, but this is a good sign.

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