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Physicians Formula to be acquired by private equity firm

BY Antoinette Alexander

AZUSA, Calif., and SAN FRANCISCO — Beauty company Physicians Formula is being acquired by private equity firm Swander Pace Capital for $4.25 per share in cash, or approximately $65 million.

The per share price represents a premium of approximately 15% over Physicians Formula’s closing stock price on Aug. 14 and a 21% premium to the company’s one-month, volume-weighted average price of $3.50 per share. The Physicians Formula’s board of directors, acting upon the unanimous recommendation of its special committee composed solely of independent directors, unanimously approved the merger agreement and resolved to recommend that the company’s stockholders vote to adopt the merger agreement.

Upon close of the merger, Physicians Formula will be privately owned and will continue to be operated by the company’s current management team and employees. Physicians Formula, founded in 1937 by Dr. Frank Crandall, will remain based in Azusa, Calif.

"Our board of directors, following a thorough analysis by its special committee, has determined that this transaction offers the best value for our stockholders," said Ingrid Jackel, Physicians Formula chairwoman and CEO. "We are pleased that Swander Pace has agreed to purchase our company. The firm has a record of success in acquiring and operating companies in the consumer space, and we believe they will add value to our business as we continue to successfully execute our growth initiatives."

The transaction, subject to various closing conditions including receipt of Physicians Formula stockholder approval, is expected to close later this year. This approval will be sought at a special meeting of stockholders.

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CityTarget love amid modest Q2 growth

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS — Target’s second-quarter sales increased 3.5% to $16.5 billion and the company’s profits grew 2.9% to $1.06 per share, 5 cents higher than analysts expected.

The company’s second-quarter results were negatively affected by pre-opening expenses related to next year’s entry into Canada. Excluding those expenses, Target said its profits would have increased 4.6% to $1.12 per share, compared with $1.07 per share last year. Including expenses related to Canada, Target increased its full-year profit forecast to a range of $4.20 to $4.40 per share from an earlier guidance range of $4.10 to $4.30 per share.

"We’re pleased with Target’s strong second-quarter financial performance, which reflects a continued focus on delivering an outstanding experience for our guests and disciplined execution of our strategy," Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said. "In addition, we’re very pleased with the initial response to the July opening of our first three CityTarget locations in Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago. We look forward to serving guests in these dense urban areas with an exciting store format and uniquely-tailored assortment."

The company also is looking forward to opening its first stores in Canada early next year and incurring considerable expense in advance of the openings. Thus, Target has taken to reporting two sets of financials results, one set that includes expenses related to the Canadian entry and another that breaks out those costs to present investors with clearer view of the performance of the U.S. business.

In the case of the latter, investors seem to like what they see and have propelled shares of Target to a 52-week high, despite relatively modest top line growth and declining margins. Operating profits at Target’s U.S. retail segment advanced 2.9% to slightly more than $1.1 billion in the second quarter and gross margins declined to 31.3% from 31.6%. The company said the decline reflected, "the impact of the company’s integrated growth strategies partially offset by underlying rate improvements within categories."

To offset the gross margin decline the company has maintained tight control of expenses within its U.S. operations and as a percent of sales expenses are now 21.1% compared with last year’s 21.3%.

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Scott Naturals names winner of four-week test drive promotion

BY Allison Cerra

DALLAS — Scott Naturals has announced the winner of its nationwide promotion, which asked consumers to to pledge to try the Scott Naturals line of hybrid paper products for four weeks.

The brand declared the state of Alaska as the winner and will donate $50,000 to be used toward local forest and land conservation efforts to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, through the National Association of State Conservation Agencies.

Scott Naturals also will be making a donation to New York due to the state’s "overwhelming participation."

This marks the second year of the Scott Naturals four-week test drive and the first year that the brand has made a donation toward conservation efforts.

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