Week's Winners and Losers: Walmart's Poverty Wages and La-Z-Boy's Comfy Earnings

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Brand New La-Z-Boy Store Opens In La Mesa, CA
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From a poorly planned food drive to "mislabeled" bibles to a run on recliners, here's a rundown of the week's best and worst moves in the business world.

La-Z-Boy (LZB) -- Winner

It's not easy to get pumped about a maker of reclining furniture, but that's just what happened this week when La-Z-Boy posted better than expected quarterly results.

Sales rose 14 percent for the quarter, and the furniture maker's profit of $0.31 a share was well ahead of what Wall Street was forecasting. La-Z-Boy also sweetened its own story by boosting its quarterly dividend by 50 percent. Something tells me that bigger dividends sound better to folks than the comfy chair.

Walmart (WMT) -- Loser

A Walmart store in Ohio made headlines for all the wrong reasons when it set up a food drive to benefit its own impoverished employees. Walmart is already taking plenty of heat for its low wages, even though it's not materially different than what many retailers pay. It never gets the accolades for making budgets last longer by offering low prices.

However, this time the knocks are warranted. Setting up tables in the employees' area for sales associates and cashiers to donate food items for their poor coworkers was never going to end well. Walmart initially played it up as a positive, suggesting that it was collecting for Walmart employees whose spouses are out of work. However, the more straightforward interpretation is that Walmart doesn't pay a living wage sufficient to provide for a family, and that's the one that went viral.

SodaStream (SODA) -- Winner

Making soda at home just got easier with SodaStream introducing SodaStream Caps.

Simply pressing a SodaStream Caps capsule down into a fizzed up SodaStream bottle provides enough syrup for the entire liter. It's a slightly more convenient process than having to pour out the syrup from a bottle's measuring cap.

SodaStream Caps are now being sold exclusively through Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), though other retailers will begin stocking the portion packs starting next year. Starting at $5 for a eight capsule cola or diet cola pack, it's not cheaper than the existing bottles, but it should be enough to win over those who haven't been as neat with their syrup pours in the past.

Costco (COST) -- Loser

You rarely see this warehouse club giant mess up, but it did this week. A pastor visiting a Costco in California was surprised to see a bible labeled as "fiction" in the store's book department. His post on Twitter went viral.

Was this an agnostic employee with a mean streak and a label gun? No. Costco laid the blame on a distributor for making the mistake on a small number of bibles. It naturally relabeled the bibles, but it was still embarrassing for a company that has typically earned nothing but praise for its high wages and its decision to remain closed on Thanksgiving.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) -- Winner

The death of Green Mountain's K-Cups at the hands of rival private-label coffee pods appears to have been greatly exaggerated. Shares of the company behind the Keurig single-serve coffee brewers rose after posting blowout quarterly results. Green Mountain saw revenue as well as sales of its K-Cups and brewers all climb at double-digit percentage rates.

Green Mountain did offer a gloomy outlook for its holiday quarter, but investors brushed that aside after the company initiated a quarterly dividend and authorized an additional $1 billion share buyback plan. Green Mountain will still need to tackle its slowdown in the current quarter, but at least it's returning money to its shareholders to reward their patience.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco Wholesale, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and SodaStream. The Motley Fool owns shares of Costco Wholesale and SodaStream. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

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