business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

Reuters reports that Sears once again is going into debt, borrowing "about $150 million from lenders, including its billionaire owner Eddie Lampert, as it racks up losses less than a year after it emerged from bankruptcy protection."

According to the story, "The new financing will help stock Sears’ store shelves for the holiday shopping season, as it struggles to become profitable. Lampert is no stranger to bankrolling Sears, having extended loans through his hedge fund ESL Investments Inc to the department store chain over the past decade until its financial collapse last year.

"The new financing is backed by assets that include Sears’ real estate and intellectual property, the sources said. The funds are less than the roughly $200 million Sears originally sought, the sources added."

Sears went into bankruptcy about as year ago having lost billions of dollars. Its former chairman and chief shareholder, Eddie Lampert, bought many of the company's assets out of bankruptcy and put the chain under the ownership of a company called Transform Holdco LLC. But since then, it has seemed as if Sears has done little but close stores.

Sounds to me like the very definition of throwing good money after bad.

Bloomberg reports that "Sanofi is voluntarily recalling heartburn medication Zantac in the U.S. and Canada amid worries that the medicine may be tainted with a compound that could cause cancer." The move comes after a number of US retailers decided "to pull the medication from store shelves. In addition, manufacturers have recalled some generic versions of Zantac products known as ranitidine."

The story notes that "US and European Union health officials are investigating levels of the probable carcinogen NDMA in Zantac and its generic equivalent sold by numerous other companies. The FDA has advised patients that there are other medications available to treat the same symptoms that ranitidine is intended to soothe."

• The New York Times reports that Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of its iconic baby powder "on Friday after the Food and Drug Administration discovered evidence of asbestos, a known carcinogen, in one of the bottles.

According to the Times, "The recall, the first time Johnson & Johnson has pulled baby powder from store shelves over asbestos concerns, could undercut its defense against a swarm of allegations that its talc-based products caused cancer. It comes as the company, which reaches into the lives of millions of people through brands such as Tylenol, Band-Aid and Rogaine and reported nearly $82 billion in sales last year, is entangled in numerous legal battles over the safety of its products."

USA Today reports on a new variety of apple that will start showing up in stores later this year: the Cosmic Crisp.

Details: "Cosmic Crisp is the first apple ever bred in Washington state, which grows the majority of the United States’ apples. It’s expected to be a game changer.

"Already, growers have planted 12 million Cosmic Crisp apple trees, a sign of confidence in the new variety. While only 450,000 40-pound boxes will be available for sale this year, that will jump to more than 2 million boxes in 2020 and more than 21 million by 2026.

"The apple variety was developed by Washington State University. Washington growers, who paid for the research, will have the exclusive right to sell it for the first 10 years. The apple is called Cosmic Crisp because of the bright yellowish dots on its skin, which look like distant stars."
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