Paula Deen loses more stores

Target Corp. and Home Depot Inc. joined companies severing ties with celebrity chef Paula Deen after she admitted to using racist slurs.

Target will phase out Deen’s line of southern-themed bakeware, dishes and floral aprons both in-store and online, Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis-based retailer, said today in an email. Atlanta-based Home Depot, which only carried Deen’s products online, also will cease selling them, Stephen Holmes, a company spokesman, said in a phone interview.

Target and Home Depot are following Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which also decided yesterday not to place new orders with Paula Deen Enterprises after current inventory is depleted. Novo Nordisk A/S, the diabetes-medication producer, has also suspended its patient-education activities with Deen, said Ken Inchausti, a spokesman.

Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest hog producer, and Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.’s Food Network, said last week they would cut ties with the chef, known for her Southern cooking. The star of Paula’s Home Cooking and Paula’s Best Dishes said in court documents made public last week that she has used a derogatory term for black people.


Speculation on cable deal

Bloomberg News reported that billionaire John Malone is exploring scenarios for how Charter Communications Inc. could acquire Time Warner Cable Inc., even after his initial overtures were rebuffed.

Malone’s company, Liberty Media Corp., which owns 27 percent of Charter, is reported to be working on how to structure an offer with enough cash to win over Time Warner Cable investors.

Time Warner Cable isn’t interested in a deal and doesn’t think Liberty and Charter can come up with an offer that’s attractive, Bloomberg’s report said.

Acquiring Time Warner Cable would be a challenge for Charter, a much-smaller company whose debt exceeds its $12.5 billion market capitalization. Time Warner Cable, valued at $31.5 billion, also would demand a hefty premium, said Bryan Kraft, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc. in New York. “Charter would have much more to gain from a merger than Time Warner Cable,” Kraft said in a note to clients.

Liberty Media is considering options such as borrowing against its own balance sheet or Time Warner Cable’s assets to raise the cash needed for an offer, two people said. Comcast Corp. used a similar strategy to complete its purchase of NBC Universal from General Electric Co. in 2011.

Malone has decades of experience negotiating cable deals in the U.S. and Europe. He built Tele-Communications Inc. in the 1970s and 1980s into one of the largest pay-TV companies before selling it to AT&T in 1999. That company later become Comcast after a $58.7 billion deal in 2002.


Nike profits increase 22%

Nike Inc., the world’s largest sporting-goods company, posted fiscal fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as running shoes propelled revenue gains in the U.S.

Net income in the quarter ended May 31 rose 22 percent to $668 million, or 73 cents a share, from $549 million, or 59 cents, a year earlier, Nike said.

Nike has been benefiting from increasing demand for running and basketball gear in North America, its largest market. In China, by contrast, consumers shunned apparel that didn’t have the right fit or sophistication, forcing Nike to use discounts. Worldwide sales gained 7.4 percent to $6.7 billion, topping estimates.

“It’s a good quarter, but not a blowout,” said Chris Svezia, an analyst for Susquehanna Financial Group. Orders for the Nike brand from June to November, excluding the effects of currency exchange-rate changes, advanced 8 percent. Analysts projected a gain of 8.8 percent, the average of five estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Shares are up 21 percent in 2013.

Compiled from staff and wire reports