Day: May 30, 2016

Amazon rips new high; B-F’s shares said looking ‘pricey,’ could tank 10%; and Pizza Hut, KFC push ahead in Myanmar

Amazon Japan
Amazon launched its Prime video service in Japan last fall.

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 4:12 p.m.

AMAZON shares notched a record $724.23 intraday high before closing moments ago at $722.79, up 1.5%; U.S. markets overall were weak (Google Finance). The online giant announced at least a dozen original video series for Amazon Japan, less than a year after entering the video market there (Deadline). More fresh Amazon news.

BROWN-FORMAN‘s stock is now looking pricey after a decade of 12.5% average annual returns that beat the Standard & Poor’s 500 index by five percentage points, according to financial weekly Barron’s. Class B shares closed at $98 on Friday and are now trading at 27 times forward earnings forecasts vs. a 10-year average of 21. The culprit: Revenue growth at the spirits and wine giant has slowed on currency swings, a problem that could soon fix itself. But by then, the company will face tough comparisons in a market that’s already crowded. Only one or two things must go wrong for shares to fall 10% or more (Barron’s). B shares were trading modestly lower 90 minutes into trading; the voting Class A shares were flat. About Brown-Forman.

PIZZA HUT and KFC are charging ahead with expansions in the former pariah nation of Myanmar after the U.S. Treasury’s easing of sanctions over human rights abuses. Pizza Hut opened one outlet last year; plans another three this year, and 20 over the next five years. KFC opened two locations  on top of five others — including one at Yangon International Airport that was blessed by monks during an opening ceremony April 6 (Global Meat News).

TACO BELL is planning three more urban-focused Cantinas, in Atlanta; Fayetteville, Ark., and Austin — areas with lots of coveted millennial college students attracted to the alcoholic beverages on menus; these newest locations follow another already in the works in Berkeley, Calif. (Eater Atlanta). Launched last year with locations in Chicago and San Francisco, Cantinas also rely heavily on technology: Every part of ordering is made easier through digital menu boards, TV monitors and Taco Bell’s mobile ordering and payment app pick up (press release). Also, 300 junior and senior high school students from 38 states who’ve won $1,000 scholarships from the Taco Bell and Get Schooled foundations will get their photos featured on a six-story digital billboard June 8 in the nation’s No. 1 tourist attraction: Times Square. This is the Graduate for Más Times Square Yearbook’s second year (Magnolia Reporter).

dd72ef_c0fd1a9b1cd54df5a2778d9922efc6eeIn other news, KMAC has postponed its reopening until July 1 because of construction delays. The $3 million renovation of the arts and crafts museum will streamline 20,000 square feet of exhibition space and 6,000 square feet of public area at its historic location at 715 West Main St. (press release). KMAC was to open June 4, with admission free for a year, underwritten by a gift from Dental Dental of Kentucky.

U.S. stocks zig-zagged, with major indices closely lower as traders looked for fresh clues on whether the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in June (Google Finance). Shares in the 11-employer Boulevard Stock Portfolio tanked, too; Churchill Downs was the biggest loser, closing down 2% at $125.51.

And Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence’s newest entry in the “X-Men” franchise, “Apocalypse,” took the top box office spot with an estimated $80 million sales over the four-day holiday weekend. But that was a big decline from “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which opened to $110.5 million on Memorial Day weekend in 2014 (WMDT). Watch the trailer:

Kentucky’s richest man is laughing all the way to the stable. (But Jack Conway isn’t)

Owner B. Wayne Hughes at Churchill Downs, 4.28.2005.
Hughes

He’s Wayne Hughes Sr. of Lexington, the 82-year-old horse breeder and retired co-founder of Public Storage, just named the state’s wealthiest resident — again — by Forbes. The magazine put his wealth at $2.6 billion, up $300 million from a year ago, after shares in the company soared 30% — far ahead of the basically flat S&P 500 index.

Hughes; his daughter, Tamara Hughes Gustavson, and son Wayne Hughes Jr., own a combined 18.1 million shares in the California-based storage chain started in 1972 — a stake worth $4.6 billion at current market prices. That’s a whopping $1.1 billion more than a year ago on the strength of the stock’s 30% jump.

Conway and Rove_edited-1
Conway and Rove

If Hughes Sr.’s name sounds familiar, it should: He’s been one of the biggest donors to American Crossroads, the conservative political action committee whose targets last year included Jack Conway — the Democratic nominee for Kentucky governor who lost big to Matt Bevin.

American Crossroads was launched six years ago by Republican strategist Karl Rove. Hughes gave the PAC nearly $6.8 million in 2010-14, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan group in Washington that tracks campaign finance. The breakdown:

Wayne Hughes donations

In the 2016 election cycle, however, Hughes’ donations have been much more modest. He’s given to just two GOP campaigns: former White House hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida $2,700), and U.S. Rep. Todd Young, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate for Indiana ($5,400).  Hughes has given nothing to Crossroads.

Dividing family money

Forbes credits Hughes with $2.6 billion of his family’s overall $4.6 billion in the magazine’s new Richest Person in Every State List. But Public Storage itself says only that he and his children own it collectively, according to this year’s annual proxy report to stockholders.

Still, no matter how you slice it, Hughes is mega-rich — even if a whole lot of people are still richer. He ranks only No. 293 on the magazine’s list of 400 wealthiest Americans, and just 810 on the world’s list of 1,810 billionaires. (No. 1 on both lists is  Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, with $76 billion.)

In fact, Hughes only ties for 293rd richest American; 13 others are just as wealthy, Forbes says. In retirement, he’s Public Storage’s chairman emeritus, and owns Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, with a stable of stallions that have sired championship horses.

Lots of millionaires statewide

Although Forbes says Hughes is Kentucky’s uber-wealthiest, there are plenty of others who are merely rich: The state has an estimated 74,000 households with $1 million or more in stocks and other investible assets, according to the Phoenix Global Wealth Monitor. That’s 4.2% of the state’s 1.7 million households. If Hughes’ fortune was spread across Kentucky, everyone would get $591; more Census facts about the state.

Starting Wednesday in Louisville: Phantom of the Opera, in five big numbers

No, not musical numbers — these kind:

e1933e936ff5cd965410c8e359a8ea1b_400x400U.S. tours since the blockbuster musical debuted 30 years ago in London have grossed more than $1.5 billion and played 216 engagements in Louisville and 76 other cities for more than 14,500 performances before 31 million people, according to The Voice-Tribune.

It opens at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday for a 12-day run. Tickets are $54 to $114. It’s the longest running show in Broadway history by a wide margin, and celebrated its 10,000th Broadway performance on Feb. 11, 2012 — the first production ever to do so.

Related: The U.S. tour’s Twitter feed, and the production’s worldwide site.

Paige Dudek“Even my centerpiece in my apartment right now is a bowl of a variety of Taco Bell hot sauces. In fact, for my senior year of high school, I was Taco Bell hot sauce for Halloween.”

— UCLA psychology student Paige Dudek, who readily admits to being obsessed with Taco Bell, in a letter to Yum CEO Greg Creed asking to spend her 21st birthday at company headquarters. This month, she got her wish.

Photo: Paige Dudek, in a photo she included with her make-my-wish-come-true letter.