Friday headlines include: Microsoft making mobile Office free, Costco considering cutting more ties with American Express, Sears potentially putting its real estate into a REIT, Disney earnings, and more hacking revelations from Home Depot.
Software giant Microsoft (MSFT) said Thursday that it will make the upgraded versions of its Office software available for free on iPhones and iPads. Microsoft has long been a leader in desktop software, but has struggled to retain market share as people have started using other devices and considering free cloud-based services offered by competitors.
Warehouse retailer Costco (COST) is reportedly soliciting bids to both issue credit cards and for a payment network for its U.S. stores. The company recently replaced American Express (AXP) as its card issuer in Canada, selecting Capital One (COF) and MasterCard (MA) for its co-branded credit cards in that country. Costco will stop accepting American Express in stores all together on Jan. 1. American Express could submit a new bid for the company's U.S. business.
Struggling retailer Sears Holdings (SHLD) said Friday that it considering placing its real-estate holdings into a REIT that would be offered to shareholders through a rights offering. The move would be way for the company to turn its assets into cash to fund its retail operations. The REIT conversion would be accompanied by a sale-leaseback deal. The company said it sold a Cupertino, Calif.-based mall-based full-line stores for $102.5 million in October. The company also said that same-store sales were likely flat for the quarter that ended on Nov. 1, with a non-GAAP loss for the company of between $275 and $325 million. The company had about $330 million in cash and $234 million in available borrowings under its credit facility as of Nov. 1.
Entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. (DIS) said Friday that it earned 86 cents per share in September, or 9 cents per share on an adjusted basis, which met analysts' estimates. Revenue was $12.39 billion, compared to a mean analyst estimate for $12.37 billion. Operating income at the company's ESPN networks fell in the quarter due to higher costs for broadcast rights to National Football League and Major League Baseball games.
Home improvement retailer Home Depot (HD) said that in addition to information about 56 million payments cards that were stolen by hackers in a recent breach, 53 million email addresses were also compromised. The company said that the email address were not linked to passwords, payment card information or other personal information.