3300 take Shaw buyouts
Employees fight for pensionFormer Sears Canada workers are hoping they can recoup a $270-million pension fund shortfall.
- $2.4B natural gas expansionBusiness 7:06 am - 700 views
- Shopify tops expectationsBusiness 6:57 am - 420 views
- Sears staff fight for pensionBusiness 6:38 am - 3,339 views
- 3,300 take Shaw buyoutsBusiness 6:35 am - 6,187 views
- Jeep in hot waterBusiness 6:31 am - 436 views
- Delta obliged to take jetsBusiness 6:25 am - 373 views
- Labour demand climbingBusiness 3,659 views
- Crack a cool cannabeer?Business 6,071 views
- Cdn Tire buys Sher-WoodBusiness 1,741 views
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$2.4B natural gas expansion
TransCanada Corp. is going ahead with a $2.4-billion expansion of its NGTL natural gas system in Western Canada, the co mpany said Thursday as it reported a swing to profitability in its fourth-quarter.
The Calgary-based company reported net income attributable to shareholders of $861 million or 98 cents per share in the fourth-quarter of 2017, compared to a loss of $358 million or 43 cents per share in the same period a year earlier.
Fourth-quarter earnings were boosted by a number of one-time items, including an $804 million recovery of deferred income taxes as a result of U.S. tax reform.
Revenues were relatively flat at $3.61 billion compared to $3.63 billion in the same quarter of 2016.
For the full 2017 fiscal year, the company reported income of $3 billion or $3.44 per share, more than double the $124 million, or 16 cents per share reported in 2016.
The company's board also boosted its quarterly divided by 10 per cent to 69 cents.
"We are pleased that our vision of becoming one of North America's leading energy infrastr ucture companies is becoming a reality. In 2017, we advanced a number of strategic initiatives and delivered record financial performance following the successful integration of Columbia into our operations," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer.
The company said the decision to expand NGTL comes after it recently completed an oversubscribed open season. Shippers have executed binding agreements for one billion cubic feet per day of expansion capacity for firm service that will start in November 2020 and April 2021.
The expansion program will include approximately 375 kilometres of large diameter pipeline, compression facilities, meter stations and other associated facilities.
It expects to file a project description with the National Energy Board by the second quarter of this year to start the review process and hopes to begin construction in 2019.
Girling added that the company will continue its $2 3 billion near-term capital spending program, including an additional $2.4 billion on NGTL. It will also invest more than $20 billion in medium- to long-term projects including the controversial Keystone XL.
Shopify tops expectations
Shopify Inc. reported a better-than-expected fourth quarter as its revenue jumped 71 per cent compared with a year ago.
The e-commerce company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it lost $3 million or three cents per share in the last three months of 2017.
That compared with a loss of $8.9 million or 10 cents per share a year earlier.
Revenue totalled $222.8 million, up from $130.4 million.
On an adjusted basis, Shopify says it earned $14.7 million or 15 cents per share for the quarter compared with an adjusted loss of $400,000 or zero cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of five cents per share and $209.3 million in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.
"That our merchants sold more in the fourth quarter than in all of 2015, achieving one billion dollars of this in just four days, speaks to how far we have come in the past few years," Shopify chief financial officer Russ Jones said in a statement.
"Our leadership role in commerce, together with the scale we have achieved, position us well to invest in our next phase of growth: one marked by expansion of our capabilities upmarket and down, in retail, in our ecosystem, and internationally."
Sears staff fight for pension
Former Sears Canada workers are hoping they can recoup a $270-million pension fund shortfall with a motion they will file in court later today.
The workers are asking for a litigation trustee to be appointed to examine about $3 billion in payments made to shareholders since 2005, when U.S. hedge fund ESL Investments and its CEO Eddie Lampert took control of Sears.
The bulk of the $3 billion went to Lampert and his company while Sears was struggling for survival.
In a blog post, Lampert says Sears still had $500 million in cash available for use and no debt after the divided payments were made.
He says ESL has suffered significant losses from Sears's 2017 bankruptcy and that he regrets the failure of the company.
Lampert claims the former employees' $270-million figure is deceitful because it conflates Sears' retirement plan with health, dental and life insurance that he says has gone unfunded since 2008.
In their motion, the workers also say they are owed $400 million for unpaid health and life-insurance benefits.
3,300 take Shaw buyouts
Shaw Communications says 3,300 of its employees have decided to take a voluntary buyout package â" far above the company's original estimate of about 650.
The Calgary-based company says that about one-quarter of its workforce will be departing as part of a previously announced multi-year transformation of its business.
Shaw originally estimated about 10 per cent of the 6,500 eligible employees would take the voluntary buyouts, which were announced about two weeks ago.
It says the company will manage the timing of the departures in an orderly fashion over 18 months to minimize the impact on the business.
Shaw will also incur a $450 million restructuring charge in the second quarter of its 2018 financial year, primarily related to severance costs. Actual payments will be spread over 18 months, starting in April.
The company's chief financial officer, Vito Culmone, will be leaving the organization May 4. He'll be replaced by Trevor English, who has a 20-year career with Shaw including as its chief strategy officer.
Jeep in hot water
The head of one of America's largest fish conservation groups says Fiat Chrysler's Super Bowl ads "glorified" the destruction of aquatic habitat in an apparent attempt to appeal to off-road thrill-seekers.
It's the second time ads by the automaker have drawn complaints since the Feb. 4 game.
Trout Unlimited President and CEO Chris Wood said Wednesday that one ad gave the impression a Jeep Cherokee was splashing down the middle of a wild streambed.
Fiat Chrysler is defending the ads but says there are no plans to run them again. It says the spot with the Cherokee was shot on a flooded county road and another with a Jeep Wrangler was filmed in a man-made lake with a man-made waterfall on private land.
Wood said many of his group's 300,000 members and supporters own Jeeps, but the images were upsetting.
"Fish are tough and resilient critters, but they don't do well with several-thousand-pound vehicles driving over their spawning grounds, tearing up the gravel where they lay eggs," he said. "Why someone would want to put out the idea that you should buy a Jeep so you could drive it up a creek is incomprehensible to me."
The Reno Gazette-Journal first reported the ad flap last week. Pam Harrington, Trout Unlimited's Nevada field co-ordinator, told the newspaper she was upset becau se she's worked with ATV clubs in Idaho repairing damage caused by irresponsible drivers.
Stream habitat improvements are part of the decadeslong efforts to protect endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest, where research shows riverbank disturbances and sedimentation chokes off fish eggs.
Wood said he didn't learn until this week that much of his membership was upset over the Jeep ads. He said he had already written a personal letter of complaint Feb. 6 to Fiat Chrysler CEO and Chairman Sergio Marchionne after Wood's son noticed the ad during the game.
The automaker also came under fire last week for another Super Bowl ad featuring a Ram pickup set against audio of "The Drum Major Instinct" sermon delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago.
The 60-second spot included images of the truck with people helping others and hugging loved ones. Critics said it omitted King's words in the same speech guarding aga inst advertisers exploiting consumers, including when the civil rights icon said, "In order to make your neighbours envious you must drive this type of car. ... And you know, before you know it, you're just buying that stuff. That's the way advertisers do it."
A company spokeswoman said that ad "was selling the message of serving in your community."
Delta obliged to take jets
The U.S. trade agency that handed Bombardier Inc. a big victory last month says Delta Air Lines could still import C Series from Canada.
The American carrier has said it will delay deliveries until the planes they ordered are built at an Airbus and Bombardier C Series assembly line that will be set up in Alabama.
However, the U.S. International Trade Commission says Delta is contractually obligated to take delivery of the planes from Canada unless the deal is renegotiated.
"We find that Delta might indeed import at least some, if not all, of the CS100s due to be delivered pending any renegotiation of the terms of its contract with Bombardier," said a 194-page report issued late Wednesday.
Bombardier declined to comment on the report, saying it will take "the necessary time to digest its content before making any comment."
Commissioners voted unanimously Jan. 26 that the C Series hasn't caused Boeing material harm even though the Department of Commerce concluded that the planes are sold in the U.S. at less than fair value and are subsidized by the Canadian government.
The ruling means the anti-dumping and countervailing duties totalling 292.21 per cent that were imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce won't be applied.
In its report spelling reasons for its decision, commissioners said they conc luded that Boeing didn't lose revenues from United or Delta sales campaigns because it didn't offer a competitive product.
It also said C Series imports and prices for the aircraft won't significantly depress prices for Boeing planes or spur demand for more imports.
Part of its argument centres on evidence â" though much of the numerical details have been blacked out in the report â" that there is no evidence of imminent C Series purchases in the U.S.
The commission noted there has been no sales momentum for C Series in the U.S. since the Delta order, with no carrier signing purchase deals.
The USITC also rejected Boeing's claim that the C Series imperilled its 737 Max 7 program, which hasn't received any orders since 2013.
Labour demand climbing
A group represen ting building contractors in British Columbia predicts a strong demand for labour to boost the wages of construction workers by nearly 10 per cent over the next two years.
That's the finding in the 2018 Wage and Benefits Survey released by the Independent Contractors and Business Association.
Survey respondents said they expect to give their workers a 4.5 per cent raise this year followed by another 5.1 per cent increase next year.
Wages are growing more than twice as fast as inflation, and association president Chris Gardner said that makes it increasingly difficult for companies to find skilled workers.
Crack a cool cannabeer?
Licensed marijuana producer Canopy Growth Corp. is already collaborating with the maker of Corona Beer on cannabis-infused beverages even though government regulations on pot edibles won' t crystallize until July 2019 at the earliest.
Canopy's chief executive Bruce Linton is betting on the fact that sales and distribution of the drug in many provinces is being handled by liquor authorities, which he hopes will be open to adding cannabis in liquid form to retail shelves.
"We are on to specifics of brands, flavourings, formats," Linton told analysts on a conference call discussing their third-quarter earnings. "We're heading down, making sure we'll have great stuff by 2019."
His comments come as Canada's biggest licensed producer announced it was one of six licensed producers to sign a supply deal with Quebec's liquor board. As part of the agreement with the Societe des alcools du Quebec, which will handle sales of recreational cannabis in the province when it is legal in Canada later this year, Canopy will provide 12,000 kilograms of cannabis annually.
Recreational cannabis sales will either be handled or regulated by liquor authorities in several other provinces and territories including Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, where it will be sold alongside alcohol. In B.C., both private and public sales will be allowed, but retailers will get their supply from the government's wholesale distribution system used for alcohol.
"The persons running retail will have a very, very specific and direct impact on what gets retailed," Linton said in an interview.
Canopy's collaboration with U.S.-based Constellation Brands was a core part of a deal announced in October that saw the alcohol producer acquire a nearly 10 per cent stake in the cannabis company for $245 million.
Shares of the Smiths Falls, Ont.-based cannabis company were up as much as six per cent on Wednesday to $28.50 on the Toronto Stock Exchange amidst news of the Quebec supply deal and its latest quarterly earnings. Its stock was trading at $27.4 5 by the late afternoon.
Canopy more than doubled its third-quarter revenue compared with a year ago but fell short of analysts' expectations for even stronger sales, as Canada gears up for legalization of cannabis for recreational use later this year.
It reported revenue of $21.7 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, more than double the $9.8 million earned in the last three months of 2016.
Cdn Tire buys Sher-Wood
Canadian Tire Corp. says it has acquired Sher-Wood Athletics Group Inc.'s global hockey trademarks.
The retailer says that INA International Ltd., a division of the company, acquired the trademarks.
It says the deal also includes Sher-Wood's related inventory.
The Sherbrooke, Que.-based company has been in operation for more than 60 years.
It manufactures and distributes hockey gear and hockey licensed products.
Canadian Tire did not provide details about the acquisition.
There's a horse in my seat
Miniature horses, monkeys and pigs can legally fly as emotional support animals on at least one Canadian airline but an advocate for travellers says the vast majority of jet-setting comfort animals are far less exotic and are a truly necessary accommodation for people with disabilities.
Unusual animal encounters at the airport have been making headlines in recent weeks.
United Airlines turned away a passenger who tried to board a flight with an emotional support peacock last month, and a Florida woman claimed last week that an airline employee told her to flush her dwarf hamster down a toilet after refusing to let the pet on the plane.
Passenger right s activist Gabor Lukacs, who has waged numerous legal battles against Canadian airlines, said the attention paid to these sensational cases undermines the rights of people with disabilities who need emotional support animals to fly comfortably.
"We need to move away the focus from the animal to the fellow passenger," said Lukacs.
"The animal is not there as a kind of luxury, they are simply there to make sure that a person with a disability is able to enjoy the same way to travel as people who don't have disabilities."
Air Canada and WestJet both have policies on their websites regarding emotional support animals and require that a passenger provide documentation from a licensed mental health professional certifying the need for the animal.
Air Canada only allows emotional support dogs on their flights.
WestJet accepts a much broader range of emotional support animals including cats, miniature horses, pigs an d monkeys, and said decisions about other "unusual animals" are made on a case-by-case basis, except for those that pose health risks such as rodents and reptiles.
Neither airline agreed to be interviewed about their policies.
Lukacs said Canadian airlines are obliged to accommodate emotional support animals for people with disabilities and failure to do so would amount to a form of discrimination.
He said the only exception would be if the animal poses a substantial risk of harming other passengers, but insisted that overwhelmingly, pets on planes cause little disruption.
Douglas Tompson said on a recent flight from Saskatoon to Toronto he was seated near a passenger who took her cat out of its carrier and started playing with it, to the coos of flight attendants.
His throat started to tingle.
Tompson, who is highly allergic to cats, said the flight attendants had to give him a Benadryl from a first-aid kit to re duce the redness and swelling, but he was still itching and wheezing as he boarded his next two flights on his more than 24-hour journey.
Cut tax rate, add incentives
The Canadian government needs to shave a bit off the corporate tax rate and provide financial incentives for investments in artificial intelligence and robotics following U.S. tax reforms, says a leading tax expert.
"I think there's room for tax reform," said Jack Mintz, a professor at the University of Calgary.
He said the combined Canadian corporate rate should drop two percentage points to 25 per cent to protect the government's tax base while the government also gives a signal encouraging more investment.
The U.S. cut its corporate tax rate to 21 per cent from 35 per cent, allowed firms to immediately write off investments in equipment and removed taxation on dividends.
"We're going to have to think a lot more about how we can keep up, otherwise our businesses won't be competitive relative to the U.S.," he said in an interview.
TD deputy chief economist Derek Burleton said the tax reform bill has considerably eroded Canada's favourable corporate taxation position, giving the U.S. an edge.
However, he added that the temporary nature of key elements of the tax reforms and uncertainty over future rates could offset the push to deploy investments in the U.S.
He expects the result will be a longer-term "bleed" in capital from Canada rather than a sudden exodus of investment.
"A greater difficulty in attracting and retaining investment in Canada would weigh on the country's longer-term growth prospects," he wrote in a report.
The changes are also increasing pressure on Canadian governments to take acti on. The federal government will unveil its budget Feb. 27.
Burleton said a "tit-for-tat" tax cut isn't necessary since taxes are only one factor in competitiveness. Instead, he said Canada should focus on tax reform over cuts. That includes eliminating inefficient tax credits and outdated regulations.
A CIBC World Markets report said the U.S. tax changes will make Canada less competitive and end the use of tax inversions.
"Don't expect any more inversions," wrote Ian de Verteuil, CIBC's managing director.
Inversions have been used by companies like Restaurant Brands International Inc. to buy Tim Hortons and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. to acquire Biovail Corporation.
An inversions is what results when a foreign company merges with a U.S. or domestic firm, creating a new parent company based in another country with lower tax rates.
Inflation fears sto ked
U.S. consumer prices, excluding the volatile food and energy categories, rose 0.3 per cent last month. That was the biggest climb in a year and has intensified inflation fears in financial markets.
Overall consumer prices rose 0.5 per cent in January, the most in four months, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Inflation rose 2.1 per cent from a year earlier and core prices increased 1.8 per cent. The increases were led by much higher clothing costs and more expensive car insurance.
Both measures show that inflation is mostly contained, but the increase in core prices will likely make investors nervous. Analysts are hyper-focused on whether faster price increases may cause the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates faster than expected. Higher interest rates make it more expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow and spend and could slow growth.
"We think the increase in core inflation is a sign of things to come over the rest of the year," said Michael Pearce, U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
Pearce expects core inflation will reach nearly 2.5 per cent in the spring and keep rising. Other economists forecast that core prices won't reach that level until the end of the year, if at all.
Investors dumped stocks and bonds in the wake of the report. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 50 points in mid-morning trading. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, a benchmark for mortgage rates, ticked up to 2.88 per cent.
Inflation was largely dormant for most of the past decade, but inflation fears â" at least in the financial markets â" have roared back this year. It's a sharp shift from last year when consumer price growth slowed, even as the economy grew and the unemployment rate fell. These are rends that typically push inflation higher.
Fears of higher prices worsened earlier this month after a government report in early February showing wages grew in the past year at the fastest pace in eight years. That sparked a market sell-off that sent stock indexes down 10 per cent before rebounding this week.
Clothing costs jumped 1.7 per cent in January after three months of declines. That was biggest monthly gain since 1990. Auto insurance prices rose 1.3 per cent, the most since 2001.
Gasoline prices rose 5.7 per cent last month, pushing up the headline index. Gas prices have risen a bit more this month: On Wednesday, the nationwide average gas price was $2.56 a gallon, up three cents from a month earlier.
Despite the market's jitters, inflation isn't yet much of a threat to consumers. The 1.8 per cent increase in core prices is still below the Fed's 2 per cent target. The Fed follows a different inflation gauge, which hasn't consistently topped 2 per cent for six years.< table>
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