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McKesson names new independent director

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — McKesson on Wednesday announced that its board of directors has elected Anthony Coles as a new independent director, effective April 29, 2014. In connection with Coles’ election, the size of the board of directors was increased from nine to 10 members, nine of whom are independent.

“With over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical industries, including several public company leadership positions, Tony will provide unique perspectives that will further diversify the expertise of our board,” said John Hammergren, chairman and CEO McKesson.  “We are committed to maintaining the best possible leadership team to continue guiding our strong financial performance. The addition of Tony to our board represents a continuation of initiatives already under way to address shareholder feedback and maintain industry-leading governance practices.”

The board has appointed Coles as a member of its compensation and finance committees. Coles’ term as a director will expire at the company’s 2014 Annual Meeting of Stockholders unless he is renominated as a director, and elected by stockholders at the annual meeting in accordance with McKesson’s majority voting standard.

Coles, 53, was president, CEO and chairman of the board of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company, from 2012 until 2013, having served as its president and CEO, and a member of its board of directors, from 2008 until 2012. From 2005 to 2008, Coles served as an executive and a director of NPS Pharmaceuticals, a public biopharmaceutical company. Coles began his tenure at NPS as president and COO and ended his tenure there as president and CEO. Prior to 2005, Coles served in various leadership positions in the biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical industries, including at Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

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NPD Group augments school and office supplies retail market data with Nielsen deal

BY Michael Johnsen

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — The NPD Group on Thursday signed a market information services agreement with Nielsen for school and office supplies retail market data and analytic services. The agreement combines Nielsen’s market information, including sales data from food and drug channels, with NPD’s existing school and office Supplies business, which covers office superstores, mass merchants, e-commerce and other retailers.

“We are looking to transform how business is done in the industries we serve, and this agreement is a strategic step for us,” said Karyn Schoenbart, president and COO of NPD. “Given new technologies and buying behavior, it has never been more important to understand where your customers are shopping, what they are buying and what they are paying. Whether clients are doing long-term strategic planning or tracking seasonal or promotional sales, our information can provide guidance.”

With the agreement, NPD will add census retail sales tracking for food and drug retailers to its core Retail Tracking Service. The new data will be integrated with NPD’s existing service for a consistent market view covering all major retailers and representing approximately 95% of U.S. retail sales for school and office supplies, supplemented with commercial tracking.

As part of the agreement, NPD announced that Nielsen will serve as its preferred analytics provider for school and office supplies clients.

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Costco reports Q2 sales up, net income down

BY Antoinette Alexander

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco reported on Thursday a decrease in second-quarter net income, which it attributed to weaker sales and gross margin results in certain non-foods merchandise categories, weaker gross margins in its fresh foods business and lower reported international profits.

Net income for the quarter was $463 million, or $1.05 per diluted share, compared with $547 million, or $1.24 per diluted share, last year.

Sales, however, rose 6% during the quarter to $25.76 billion. Comparable sales for the 12 weeks ended Feb. 16 rose 3%. In the United States, comparable sales rose 4%.

"Last year’s net income was positively impacted by a $62 million ($0.14 per diluted share) tax benefit in connection with the portion of the special cash dividend paid by the company in December 2012 to the company 401(k) plan participants. Even with that distinction, however, the year-over-year comparison was unfavorable,” said Richard Galanti, CFO of Costco. “Despite satisfactory sales results during the second fiscal quarter, several other factors led to lower earnings. These factors included weaker sales and gross margin results in certain non-foods merchandise categories, particularly during the four-week holiday selling season; weaker gross margins in our fresh foods business; and lower reported international profits, resulting from the significant weakening of foreign exchange rates. The first four-week period of the quarter represented the majority of earnings underperformance in the quarter."

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