Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
Twitter handle: @jeffmason1
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Rolls-Royce investors are keeping their seat belt fastened despite the promise of an increasingly smooth journey. The British plane engine-maker aims to generate 1 pound of free cash flow per share over the mid-term, quadruple this year’s estimate. Despite the bullish new target, shareholders don’t look to be pricing it in fully. A distant horizon and history of one-off costs suggest why.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - An important ruling by Britain’s Supreme Court on workers’ rights leaves many big questions about the so-called “gig economy” unanswered. The court’s decision that a self-employed plumber is entitled to workers’ rights is ominous for companies like Uber which depend on casual labour. But it offers little new guidance for dealing with technology’s impact on the way people work.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - J Sainsbury’s 7.3 billion pound bid for Asda shows the need for new antitrust thinking. The grocer wants Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to vet retail mergers in a new way. The rise of discount rivals and online shopping means it has a point. A revamp of the metrics used to ensure that shoppers have enough choice is inevitable.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - J Sainsbury will try to succeed where Walmart flopped. The British grocer is buying the U.S. retail giant’s Asda subsidiary for 7.3 billion pounds in cash and stock. Even after passing on some cost savings to shoppers, Sainsbury’s could make a double-digit return on investment. That’s unless demands from competition authorities eat into the benefits.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - KFC’s penny-pinching ways have left it stuffed. The fried-chicken chain owned by Yum Brands had to close hundreds of its UK restaurants after running out of poultry. Its plan to cut costs by ditching its old food supplier for a cheaper one backfired. The cock-up shows that chasing higher margins is no sure way to feather your nest.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Heineken’s number two status comes with marginal costs as well as benefits. The Dutch group is one of the few global brewers still managing to boost beer volumes. However, acquisitions will weigh on its operating margins in 2018.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Nestlé is making its board more activist-friendly. The chief executives of Adidas and Spain’s Inditex are among the heavyweight non-executive directors that the Swiss giant is proposing to appoint. Their e-commerce expertise will help steer efforts to sell more directly to consumers. They may also help to pre-empt any plan by activist Dan Loeb to install his own candidates.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Nestlé is parting ways with LaffyTaffy and Runts. The Swiss food group agreed on Tuesday to sell its U.S. candy brands to Italy’s Ferrero for a sweet $2.8 billion to invest in products with better growth prospects than junk food. But high valuations for alternatives like vitamin pills limit new boss Mark Schneider’s opportunities to make Nestlé a clean-living champion.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Marks & Spencer is looking a bit dowdy. The high street retailer’s food and clothing arms met quarterly forecasts, but both have strategic issues. This wouldn’t matter if M&S was seeing 25 percent growth in online sales, like jazzier rival Boohoo. But a 5 percent share dip on Jan. 11 can partly be attributed to the fact it isn’t.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Foodies saved Christmas at Sainsbury’s. The supermarket’s grocery business had a better festive season than its clothing and general merchandise. UK consumers, stung by high inflation, are spending less on non-essential items, but still need to eat. That means grocers are better able to pass on rising prices to shoppers.