4 Consumer Stock Stories Attracting Notice Tuesday

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F): Closing price $15.51

Over the next six months, Ford said that it intends to add 800 white-collar workers in the United States, which will take its total number of salaried recruits in 2013 to 3,000. The new jobs, which will be mostly in engineering, information tech, product development, and manufacturing, will be in addition to the 2,200 new salaried jobs Ford reported earlier this year. The historic automaker will also bring in workers in purchasing, finance, and other areas. With demand for new cars and trucks possibly exceeding 15 million light vehicles in the United States in 2013, domestic auto and parts factories are being run at almost maximum capacity for the number of workers available.

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Walgreen Co. (NYSE:WAG): Closing price $49.54

The Walgreens pharmacy chain and federal authorities have arrived at an $80-million resolution concerning rules violations that permitted some tens of thousands of units of powerful painkillers like oxycodone to illegally get into the hands of drug addicts and dealers, Mark R. Trouville, chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami field office, said Tuesday. Trouville said that Walgreens committed a number of record-keeping and dispensing violations of the Controlled Substances Act at a top East Coast distribution center in Jupiter, Florida and at six retail pharmacies throughout that state. Authorities said that the Jupiter center did not flag suspicious orders of drugs it received from pharmacies, and that the retail outlets routinely filled prescriptions that were obviously not meant for a legitimate medical use.

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Unilever (NYSE:UL): Closing price $41.35

Investors are valuing shares of Nestle and Unilever’s Nigerian divisions at roughly twice the level of their European parents, while faster growth in that country pushes consumer stocks to record highs. The 53-percent surge in Nestle Nigeria in 2013 drove shares to 33 times estimated profit, which is nearly double the ratio for Nestle and up from a discount last year. Unilever Nigeria has a price-to-earnings multiple of 38, versus 18 for Unilever, which is based in London and Rotterdam. Proponents believe that the gains in Nigeria are justified by the economic expansion in Africa’s biggest oil-producing nation, with Hermes Fund Managers and Renaissance Asset Management viewing the valuation gaps as an indication that shares are too expensive.

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Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL): Closing price $18.52

It is anticipated that Delta will obtain unconditional European regulatory approval to acquire a 49-percent interest in Virgin Atlantic, which will permit it to compete more effectively with competitors in the profitable transatlantic market. A person familiar with the deal said Monday that the European Commission, which is exploring the deal as the pan-European regulator, sees no problems related to competition. Delta and Virgin Atlantic reported the deal in December of last year, describing a joint venture that would allow both carriers to offer additional flights at London Heathrow, which is Europe’s busiest airport.

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