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LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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02/21/2020 | 05:16pm EDT



Beef Drives Big Cost Surge at Ruth's -- Market Talk

12:34 ET - Steakhouse chain owner Ruth's Hospitality Group reports a 14% increase in food and beverage costs for 4Q, driven by a nearly 19% spike in beef prices. Food and beverage costs are expected to eat up 30% of restaurant sales in 2020. Retail demand for prime beef cuts drove the spike, though fast-food burger chains are also reporting pressure in meat costs this year. Ruth's shares off 4.2%. (heather.haddon@wsj.com; @heatherhaddon)


Landry's Bids $50 Million to Buy Palm Steakhouses Out of Bankruptcy

Billionaire Tilman Fertitta's restaurant operation, Landry's Inc., is offering $50 million to buy the Palm steakhouse restaurants and their branding out of a bankruptcy that stems from a bitter family feud.

The company behind the Palm chain filed court papers Thursday proposing to name a Landry's affiliate as the stalking horse-bidder for the Palm enterprise, including the 21 branded steakhouses, trademarks, licensing rights and real estate.




Shake Shack Guidance Could Be Shaky -- Market Talk

0821 ET - SunTrust cuts Shake Shack to hold from buy and trims its price target by $3 to $79, saying it expects the restaurant chain will deliver disappointing guidance with its 4Q report after the bell on Monday. The analysts worry Shake Shack's move to a single delivery partner (GrubHub) from four and its plans to open the bulk of its company-owned stores in existing markets this year will weigh on same-store sales. SunTrust says it expects Shake Shack's comps to fall 0.8% in 2020 vs a Street view of a 0.7% increase, according to FactSet. The analysts say they still see Shake Shack "as one of the strongest growth stories and brands in restaurants," but with a nearly 29% year-to-date run-up in the stock, "we see a more balanced risk/reward." Shake Shack down 1.7% premarket to $75.34. (colin.kellaher@wsj.com)


Trump Says He's Prepared to Give More Aid to Farmers Hurt by Trade Conflict

WASHINGTON -- President Trump said the U.S. would consider a third round of aid payments for American farmers who have borne the brunt of retaliation for U.S. tariffs for much of the past two years.

Although the U.S. has said farmers would benefit from its signing of a phase-one trade deal with China and its ratification of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Mr. Trump raised the possibility that new aid payments may be necessary until those deals bear fruit. The USMCA was signed in late January and the China deal didn't take effect until Feb. 14.


USDA's NASS Hoping to Shake Criticism -- Market Talk

10:55 ET - The USDA is hoping to tweak the way it's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports data in order to be more accurate following a year filled with questions and complaints among farmers regarding the last planting season. "One of the big lessons (that we learned) is that you can't communicate enough," says Lance Honig of NASS. Honig provided explanations of last year's hiccups in surveying--including the June planting report, which Honig contends was published despite extensive flooding since the document is required by other agencies like the OMB. (Kirk.Maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)




Cattle Futures Fall As Beef Supply Looms Large -- Market Talk

15:29 ET - Live cattle futures on the CME finished 0.8% lower at $1.1825 per pound, fueled largely by an expected short-term pileup of beef in the supply chain. "Carcass weights continue to come in at record heavy weights which is putting more beef in the pipeline," says Jeff French of Top Third Ag Marketing. Lean hog futures, meanwhile, inched 0.2% to 67.025 cents per pound. (Kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)



Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Feb 21 
Source: USDA, based on Wall Street Journal calculations 
All figures are on a per-head basis. 
Date     Standard Margin       Estimated margin 
         Operating Index         at vertically - 
                             integrated operations 
Feb 21       +$ 25.65            +$  4.22 
Feb 20       +$ 23.93            +$  3.34 
Feb 19       +$ 23.95            +$  2.57 
* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production. 
A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of 
production of the animals. 
This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite 
values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices. 
          For Today             Choice   94.0 
      (Percent of Year-Ago)     Select   95.4 
USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports 

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Friday rose 59 cents per hundred pounds, to $205.09, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose 10 cents per hundred pounds, to $201.70. The total load count was 97. Wholesale pork prices rose 41 cents, to $63.70 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
FEEDER CATTLE?FUTURES (GF) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -0.72% 121.05 End-of-day quote.-17.39%
GRUBHUB INC. 2.98% 40.73 Delayed Quote.-16.26%
LIVE CATTLE (LE) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -0.27% 101.55 End-of-day quote.-18.34%
SHAKE SHACK INC. 0.32% 37.74 Delayed Quote.-36.65%
SUNTRUST BANKS 1.26% 70.13 Delayed Quote.0.00%
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