There were plenty of winners and losers this week, with a once red-hot maker of mobile apps finding an exit strategy in the hands of an acquirer and a popular restaurant chain having to close down several of its burrito shops after an illness outbreak.
HBO — Winner
Jon Stewart’s retirement didn’t last very long. The iconic host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” stepped down this summer, and on Tuesday Time Warner’s (TWX) HBO announced that it had signed him to an exclusive four-year production deal.
Stewart won’t be getting a new full-length show. He’ll be contributing short-form content throughout the day that will be made available on its stand-alone HBO Now streaming platform. That’s a great way to draw attention to the new online service, and it’s something that should help HBO compete in a world with a growing number of video entertainment options.
Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) — Loser
The “food with integrity” champ of fast-casual dining has a brand integrity issue on its hands. Chipotle had to temporarily shutter 43 of its eateries in the Northwest after several customers became ill with symptoms suggesting an E. coli outbreak. At least 39 customers in Washington and Oregon have become sick after eating at Chipotle, with a few of them having to be hospitalized.
Chipotle will get over this. It’s not the first time that it has had an issue with customers and even employees getting sick. However, Chipotle’s appeal is based on the premise that its natural ingredients are superior and worth paying a premium for. As the headline became a national story it will be that much harder for Chipotle to win back the trust of its burrito-loving audience.
King Digital Entertainment (KING) — Winner
Sometimes social gaming can have a happy ending. Activision Blizzard (ATVI) announced that it would be acquiring King Digital — the company behind “Candy Crush Saga” and other mobile apps — in a $5.9 billion deal.
King Digital shareholders will be cashed out at $18 a share. That is a discount to the $22.50 price tag that it went public at last year, but it’s a premium to where it was trading when the deal was announced.
King Digital saw its gross bookings for “Candy Crush Saga” peak in late 2013, and while it countered that with an uptick in new releases, none of the games failed to surpass the popularity of the original. King Digital had the resources to stick around on its own and fade quietly, but now it has a better chance to succeed with a much larger video gaming company taking the wheel.
Checkpoint Systems (CKP) — Loser
There’s some irony to be had when you specialize in arming retailers with theft-prevention devices but you miss something going amiss in your own house. Checkpoint Systems announced that it has overstated its earnings in its two most recent quarters. Checkpoint will be adjusting its bottom-line results lower for the first and second quarters of this year.
Kmart — Winner
The blue lights are swirling again at Kmart. Parent company Sears Holdings (SHLD) rolled out its iconic Bluelight Specials this past weekend through all of its stores. At any point in the day the blue light siren will go off and an announcement will be made on deals that will only be available for 15 minutes.
Kmart’s been a fading discount department store chain for more than a decade, and bringing back the Bluelight Specials that it retired in 1991 should help drum up store traffic. After all, the deals aren’t announced ahead of time, so you just have to be inside a Kmart to see if it’s worth it. It’s a smart move just as the holiday shopping season is getting started.