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Sri Lanka opposition, protesters vow to continue anti-government campaign

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ranil Wickremesinghe, newly appointed prime minister, arrives at a Buddhist temple after his swearing-in ceremony amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 12, 2022. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

By Uditha Jayasinghe and Alasdair Pal

COLOMBO (Reuters) -Sri Lanka’s main opposition party joined anti-government protesters on Friday in rejecting the appointment of a new prime minister, and insisted the president resign because of the country’s disastrous economic crisis.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed veteran opposition politician Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister late on Thursday, but the comments signalled it was not likely to resolve the political and economic disarray in the strategic Indian Ocean island nation.

A week of violent clashes between protesters and government supporters across the country has left 9 people dead and over 300 injured. The president’s elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, quit as prime minister on Monday as violence spiralled and is in hiding in a military base.

The rest of the cabinet had quit earlier.

“It is clear the (new) prime minister is remote controlled by the president,” said Eran Wickramaratne, a parliamentarian and senior member of the main opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. “This country wants the Rajapaksas to go home. We are committed to that goal.”

Protesters who have camped out at a site near the prime minister’s office for over a month also rejected the appointment.

“We will stop this struggle when our people get justice,” said Chamalage Shivakumar, one of the hundreds of people at the “Gota Go Home” site, named for the president.

“Whoever they appoint as prime minister, we will not stop this struggle until people get relief.”

Wickremesinghe is the only lawmaker from his United National Party in the country’s parliament and will be reliant on rival political parties to form a coalition government. An alliance led by the Rajapaksas holds about 100 of parliament’s 225 seats, while the opposition has 58 seats. The rest are independent.

On Friday, Wickremesinghe met India’s high commissioner, or ambassador, to Sri Lanka, his first publicly known contact with a foreign government since his appointment.

“Discussed continued cooperation for economic recovery and stability in Sri Lanka through democratic processes,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a tweet.

New Delhi is battling China for influence in strategically important Sri Lanka, which lies on key shipping lanes between Asia and Europe and is home to major infrastructure projects financed by both countries.

Protesters said the appointment of Wickremesinghe will do little to ease the anger against the president, who they say is ultimately responsible for the worst economic crisis to hit the nation since it became independent in 1948.

Buffeted hard by the pandemic, rising oil prices and populist tax cuts by the Rajapaksa brothers, Sri Lanka is critically low on foreign exchange, and rampant inflation and fuel shortages have brought thousands onto the street in a month of protests that had remained predominantly peaceful until this week.

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Kim Kardashian Named Beyond Meat’s First Chief Taste Consultant, Shares Fail to Hold on to Gains

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© Reuters. Kim Kardashian Named Beyond Meat’s (BYND) First Chief Taste Consultant, Shares Fail to Hold on to Gains

Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND), the maker of plant-based meat substitutes, announced it is launching a campaign with the beauty icon Kim Kardashian.

Kardashian will help the California-based company’s unique product portfolio attract more attention through advertising, signature recipes, and fresh creative content.

“I’ve been focusing on going more plant-based and can tell you that Beyond Meat is my absolute favorite – I love how all their products not only taste amazing but are also good for me and my family. Plus, my kids are obsessed with my Beyond Beef® taco recipe, the Beyond Burger® for BBQs, and Beyond Chicken® Tenders for a quick snack,” said Kim Kardashian.

Kardashian added she is honored to be involved in the new Beyond Meat campaigns as the company’s Chief Taste Consultant “to inspire people to include Beyond Meat in their diets.”

Furthermore, the celebrity will also share thoughts on her favorite Beyond Meat offerings through the newsletter which will contain exclusive offers, recipes, and more.

Even though Kardashian is very cautious when teaming up with brands, her decision to collaborate with Beyond Meat was not surprising as she has been a long-time fan of the company’s products and vision.

Apart from Kim, Beyond Meat collaborates with a number of beloved celebrities including Snoop Dogg, Liza Koshy, Kevin Hart, and Shay Mitchell, among others.

“I am really inspired by Beyond Meat’s mission and love that they are not only making plant-based eating delicious and accessible but are doing so in a way that benefits both people and the planet. It’s empowering to know that the small changes I’m making for my family, like incorporating more Beyond Meat into our meals, can add up to make a big impact,” Kardashian added.

Beyond Meat stock price initially rose 10% on the news before erasing all gains to trade over 5% in the red.

By Senad Karaahmetovic

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Ralph Lauren expects margins to grow as rich customers shrug off inflation

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man walks past Ralph Lauren Corp.’s flagship Polo store on Fifth Avenue in New York City, U.S., April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Praveen Paramasivam

(Reuters) -Ralph Lauren Corp forecast higher sales and improved margins for the year as demand for its luxury apparel in its biggest markets in North America and Europe stays strong at a time when inflation is denting profits at major U.S. retailers.

The spending power of higher-income customers has stayed unaffected by higher prices of essentials, and they are now splurging on fashion as they venture out more with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the globe.

“Consumers are starting to go out during the day, so there’s a need for sports coat, outerwear and dresses. And then they return to social activities in the evenings or on the weekend,” Chief Executive Officer Patrice Louvet said on an earnings call on Tuesday.

The 55-year-old brand also forecast revenue to increase in high single digits, versus Wall Street’s expectation of a 3.6% increase, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL), which said it could raise prices further to counter increased freight and product costs, forecast fiscal 2023 gross margin to increase 30 to 50 basis points on a comparable, constant currency basis.

Major discount chains, meanwhile, have seen their profits dwindle. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Inc, Target Corp (NYSE:TGT) and Kohl’s Corp (NYSE:KSS) have reduced their earnings expectations.

Shares of Ralph Lauren fell 2% amid broader declines, after the company also forecast gross margin to be down for the first half of fiscal 2023 due to higher expenses and a strong dollar.

The brand said its forecasts take into account a potentially softer consumer sentiment in Europe and the impact of Chinese lockdowns. Still, Ralph Lauren expects its business in China to grow this year.

For Ralph Lauren, which increased its quarterly dividend by 9%, fourth-quarter net revenue rose 18% to $1.52 billion, beating estimates of $1.46 billion. Adjusted per-share profit was 49 cents, above estimates of 36 cents.

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Snowflake Stock Plunges 7% Despite Rosenblatt Upgrade to Buy on Valuation and Growth

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© Reuters. Snowflake (SNOW) Stock Plunges 7% Despite Rosenblatt Upgrade to Buy on Valuation and Growth

By Senad Karaahmetovic

Shares of Snowflake Inc (NYSE:SNOW) are down more than 7% today on broader sector weakness despite the fact that Rosenblatt analyst Blair Abernethy upgraded it to Buy from Neutral.

A new price target is $255.00 per share, down from the prior $325.00. The upgrade call comes as the company prepares to report Q1 results on Wednesday after market close.

“Given the ongoing enterprise Digital Transformation momentum, strong Q1 growth reported by the leading Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), and Snowflake’s healthy +160% Net Revenue Retention (NRR) rate, we expect Snowflake to meet or marginally exceed our Q1 Product Revenue growth estimate of 81% y-o-y,” Abernethy said in an upgrade note.

The price target implies a near 100% upside from current levels.

As of 10:15 EST, Snowflake stock price trades at $128.89.

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