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NRF welcomes President Obama’s recognition of retail’s role in job creation

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — The largest retail trade association on Wednesday said that President Obama’s State of the Union address recognized the industry’s role in job creation.

The National Retail Federation said that the president’s "continued support of ‘commonsense safeguards,’" which included support of such proposals as swipe fee limits, "will help retailers innovate and support the consumer spending that is crucial to job creation."

President Obama discussed other proposals that would benefit the retail industry, NRF said. In his speech, the president recommended corporate and individual tax cuts; adoption of free trade agreements that would make it easier for retailers to import merchandise, while helping open markets for U.S. goods; and deficit reduction through cuts in government spending, rather than new taxes that would threaten the recovery, the association said.

"We are anxiously waiting to hear the details, but the tax reform, deficit reduction, trade agreements, reduction in regulations that hamper small business and other initiatives proposed by the president are all examples of how the government can help the private sector create jobs,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “As the industry that supports 1-out-of-every-5 U.S. workers, we stand ready to work with the president and Congress to promote initiatives that put Americans back to work.”

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Cash is king and chain drug is on an upswing

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — The Motley Fool on Tuesday suggested all three national pureplay drug chains were in a better position today than five and three years ago based on a metric called the “cash king margin.”

The metric teases out the amount of free cash flow a company actually can use to monetize shareholder value by paying dividends or buying back stocks. Companies that can create cash king margins (calculated by dividing free cash flow by sales) of more than 10% are the most attractive to investors, the Fool surmised.

Today, Walgreens boasts the highest cash king margin of 4%, followed by CVS (2.7%) and Rite Aid (0.8%). That compares with 5.2%, 1.6% and -0.3% versus a year ago, respectively.

“CVS has offered us the kind of steady increase in cash king margins that we like to see,” the Fool wrote. “Walgreens has also increased its margins nicely from five years ago, but is down more than 1 percentage point from last year. Rite Aid has also grown its margins over the last three years, but its margins are still lower than 1%.”

For the full report, click here.

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Smoking may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Smoking before menopause, especially prior to giving birth, may be associated with a modest increase in the risk of developing breast cancer, according to a report in the Jan. 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

“Smoking before menopause was positively associated with breast cancer risk, and there were hints from our results that smoking after menopause might be associated with a slightly decreased breast cancer risk,” the authors suggested. “This difference suggests an antiestrogenic effect of smoking among postmenopausal women that may further reduce their already-low endogenous estrogen levels.”

Conversely, never smoking and passive smoking in childhood or adulthood were not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. Exposure to parents who smoked while living in the same house, passive smoking while at work or at home and the number of years living with someone who smoked were not related to increased risk of breast cancer after adjusting for other possible factors.

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