Boeing’s earnings, outlook overshadowed by 787 unknowns

NEW YORK, Tue Jan 29, 2013 — Just over a month ago, Boeing was flying high.

Its airplane factories were humming and speeding up production. Its defense business had just been restructured to deal with dwindling budgets in the United States and Europe. The company was confident enough to increase its dividend and resume buying back shares.

Perhaps best of all, Boeing was shortly to reclaim the title of world’s biggest plane maker, snatching back an honor that its arch rival Airbus had held for a decade.

But with its new 787 Dreamliner still grounded by two battery failures on the eve of its 2012 earnings release, the Chicago-based aerospace and defense giant is in no position to rest on laurels.

Analysts and investors are likely to grill Chief Executive Jim McNerney about the costs of fixing the 787 when the company reports earnings on Wednesday.

Those costs are unknown but mounting daily as airlines are barred from using the high-tech plane. Boeing is still building five Dreamliners a month but isn’t delivering them to customers. With each of them carrying a list price of $207 million, they quickly become an expensive pile of jets outside Boeing’s factories in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina.

That is why Wall Street is looking for guidance from McNerney about how painful the grounding is getting.

Caterpillar cuts outlook, sees global economy weakening

PEORIA, Ill., Mon Oct 22, 2012 –  Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of tractors and excavators, slashed its 2012 forecast for the second time this year as it warned the global economy was slowing faster than it had expected.

The company’s retail dealers are selling off inventories, rather than buying new machines, forcing Caterpillar to idle some production, executives said on Monday.

“As we’ve moved through the year, we’ve seen continued economic weakening and uncertainty,” CEO Doug Oberhelman said in a statement.

Caterpillar does not expect improvement in overall economic growth until the second half of 2013, Oberhelman added.

The statement came despite better-than-expected third-quarter profit on a rebound in U.S. sales of heavy equipment to repair crumbling infrastructure. Europe and parts of Latin America remained tough regions for Caterpillar.

Procter & Gamble profit tops forecast, plans buybacks

CINCINNATI, Fri Aug 3, 2012 – Procter & Gamble Co. posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit despite a drop in sales, just weeks after the world’s largest household products maker took the blame for its disappointing performance and said it was focusing on ways to improve.

The results, released on Friday, are being watched closely for any early signals of how well P&G and its current leadership can fix a long list of problems, especially after activist investor William Ackman stepped in and bought about $1.8 billion worth of its shares.

The maker of Pampers diapers and Tide laundry detergent said it had talked with Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, but did not divulge details of those discussions.

“We have a dialogue with Pershing just as we do with all investors, but of course we keep the content of these discussions confidential to protect the interests and proprietary thoughts of our investors,” CEO Bob McDonald told reporters on a conference call on Friday.

P&G also said it would repurchase $4 billion worth of its shares this fiscal year. In June it said it did not expect to do so because it wanted to preserve its credit rating.

CFO Jon Moeller said P&G changed its mind because it had growing confidence in its turnaround plan and more cash on hand than it had anticipated in June, while interest rates continued to fall.

Citing global anxiety, DuPont gets cautious on 2012

WILMINGTON, Del., Tue Jul 24, 2012 – DuPont expects 2012 earnings to come in at the bottom of its prior forecast range, due in part to economic uncertainty circling the globe, the maker of chemicals, hybrid seeds and Kevlar bulletproof fiber said on Tuesday.
The updated forecast, for earnings at the “lower end” of a range of $4.20 to $4.40 per share, came after the company posted a higher-than-expected profit for the second quarter.
Analysts on average expect earnings of $4.25 per share this year, meaning DuPont could fall short of Wall Street’s expectations.
Higher taxes and currency conversion should also weigh on results, said Chief Executive Ellen Kullman.
“We’re seeing sequential improvement in many markets that have been very sketchy in the first half of the year,” Kullman said on a conference call with analysts and investors. “Our ability to forecast is not as great as we used to think it was.”
DuPont reported second-quarter net income of $1.18 billion, or $1.25 per share, down from $1.22 billion, or $1.29 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.48 per share. By that measure, analysts expected $1.46, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 8 percent to $11.28 billion. Analysts had expected $11.27 billion.
Sales jumped the most in North America and Latin America, helped largely by strong sales of seeds and other agricultural products. Kullman said she would closely watch North American sales to industrial, commercial and housing customers.

Macy’s May same-store sales beat Wall Street forecast

NEW YORK, Wed May 30, 2012 – Macy’s Inc. reported better than expected May same-store sales on Wednesday, helped by its growing e-commerce business.

For the four weeks ended May 26, Macy’s same-store sales, which include online sales and sales at its department stores open at least a year, rose 4.2 percent, slightly above the 4 percent increase Wall Street analysts were projecting.

Online sales rose 42.3 percent. Total sales for the period were up 4.1 percent to $2.02 billion. Macy’s also owns the upscale Bloomingdale’s chain.

General Mills to cut about 850 jobs globally; restructuring moves set

MINNEAPOLIS, Tue May 22, 2012 – General Mills Inc. will cut about 850 jobs, or 2.4 percent of its workforce, and take other restructuring measures to support growth, the company said on Tuesday.

The company, which has been facing higher costs of raw materials, will record total restructuring charges of about $109 million pretax, including about $94 million in the fourth quarter ending on May 27.

The remaining costs will be recorded in fiscal 2013, General Mills said.

The maker of Progresso soups, Cheerios cereal and Green Giant vegetables said the job cuts would occur across the company and would largely affect administrative and support positions.

General Mills said in March that third-quarter net income had fallen to $391.5 million, or 58 cents per share, from $392.1 million, or 59 cents per share, a year earlier.

On Tuesday, General Mills said it was backing its earlier forecast of earnings between $2.53 and $2.55 a share for the year.

The company’s shares were down 1 cent at $38.54 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Target raises annual profit forecast; shares inch up

MINNEAPOLIS, Wed May 16, 2012 – Target Corp. raised its annual earnings forecast after posting a bigger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit, even as it spends more on plans to open stores in Canada and has concerns about U.S. shoppers’ ability to spend.

The discount chain expects economic uncertainty to continue for the rest of 2012, Chairman and Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel said on Wednesday.

Shares of Target were up 31 cents to $55.39 in midday trading after rising as high as $56.44 earlier in the session.

“Consumers are not buying more at Target. What’s driving their sales is maybe people are shopping a bit more often,” said Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions. “It’s not like people are going in and loading up their baskets as much as they were a couple of years ago.”

Target said it expects sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, to rise about 3 percent this quarter and 3 percent or a little more for the full year. Last year same-store sales rose 3 percent.

Target, which sells basic goods such as soap and paper towels along with limited-edition items from the likes of designer Jason Wu, has been seeing more customers shop using its credit cards, which offer a 5 percent discount and free online shipping.

Dow Chemical profit beats predictions, but sales miss the mark

MIDLAND, Mich., Thu Apr 26, 2012 – Solid sales of herbicides and other agricultural products helped Dow Chemical Co.’s first-quarter profit beat Wall Street’s expectations, but lower-than-expected revenue pushed shares down more than 3 percent in premarket trading.

Dow’s chemicals and other products are used to make plastics, computers, clothing and many other consumer goods. The company’s results are often seen as a key barometer of global economic health.

The largest U.S. chemical maker by sales said the U.S. economy is improving, helped by shale-derived natural gas, and that China would continue to be an attractive growth market.

But parts of Europe remain in “recessionary conditions,” the company said on Thursday. Volume rose in Europe only because of a propylene supply agreement Dow has with Braskem SA for that continent after the Brazilian company bought Dow’s polypropylene business last year.

“We anticipate that global growth will gain momentum as we move through the second quarter and into the remainder of the year,” Chief Executive Andrew Liveris said in a statement on Wednesday.

For the quarter ended March 31, the company posted net income of $412 million, or 35 cents per share, compared with $625 million, or 54 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

GE profit, revenue top Wall Street forecast; orders up 20 percent

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Fri Apr 20, 2012 – General Electric Co. topped Wall Street’s profit and revenue forecasts for the first quarter, helped by strong demand for energy equipment and railroad locomotives.

The largest U.S. conglomerate said industrial orders had risen 20 percent in the quarter and that selling prices had improved in most of businesses. This should help CEO Jeff Immelt achieve his goal of boosting profit margins by a 0.5 percentage point this year.

“We witnessed broad-based strength in orders across all our infrastructure businesses and in both equipment and services,” Immelt said in a statement.

GE shares rose 0.9 percent to $19.31 in premarket trading.

Investors noted that the company had notched solid organic growth — a measure that factors out the influence of acquisitions or fluctuations in exchange rates.

“Organic revenue growth in the industrial business was great at 11 percent,” said Jack De Gan, chief investment officer of Harbor Advisory Corp., a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, firm that owns GE shares. “GE has been a disappointment for a long time … (and) is now finally going to get back to where its earnings can compound at a rate better than the S&P for a while.”

As of Thursday’s close, GE shares were up 6.6 percent for the past year, trailing the 10 percent rise of the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index.

Investors said the report was a good sign for the rest of the industrial sector. Fellow blue-chip companies United Technologies Corp., 3M Co. and Caterpillar Inc. are all due to report results next week.

GE “beat on revenues, which they haven’t really been able to do in a long time, and that really bodes well for industrials in particular,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst of Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.