Job growth stronger in year to March than first thought

WASHINGTON, Thu Sep 27, 2012 – The U.S. economy likely created 386,000 more jobs in the 12 months through March than previously estimated, the Labor Department said on Thursday in a preliminary estimate of its annual “benchmark” revision to closely watched payrolls data.

Once a year, the department compares its non-farm payroll data, based on monthly surveys of a sample of employers, with a much more complete database of unemployment insurance tax reports.

It said its latest comparison suggests the level of employment in March was 0.3 percent higher than it had previously stated.

A final benchmark revision will be released in February along with the department’s report on employment in January. Government statisticians will use the final benchmark count to revise payroll data for months both prior to and after March.

A breakdown by industry sector showed 453,000 more total private sector jobs were created than initially thought, including 145,000 more jobs in the trade, transportation, and utilities category, plus 85,000 more in construction.

In contrast, the benchmark revision lowered the estimate for job creation in the government sector by 65,000, while it found that 25,000 fewer manufacturing jobs had been generated over the 12 month period than previously thought.

Macy’s posts higher profit, raises earnings forecast

NEW YORK, Wed Aug 8, 2012 – Macy’s Inc. reported a higher-than-expected second-quarter profit on Wednesday, helped by cost controls and strong sales in July, and the department store chain raised its full-year profit forecast.

Macy’s shares were up 3.2 percent to $38.20 in premarket trading.

As previously reported, second-quarter sales rose 3 percent to $6.12 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year, a key industry metric known as same-store sales, also rose 3 percent.

Same-store sales were below the retailer’s forecast for a 3.5 percent jump. Chief Executive Terry Lundgren blamed “a soft economy,” less spending by foreign tourists, and disruptions caused by the ongoing $400 million makeover of Macy’s iconic Manhattan flagship store.

But the chain’s sales improved in July, beating expectations, and Lundgren said he was confident Macy’s could win market share heading toward the holiday season.

His confidence comes as rival J.C. Penney Co. Inc. continues to work on a massive overhaul, which has confused shoppers and led sales at that chain to plunge.

Macy’s reported net income of $279 million, or 67 cents a share, for the quarter that ended July 28, up 15.8 percent from $241 million, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts’ average forecast was 64 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Pfizer beats forecasts, helped by cost cuts

NEW YORK, Tue Jul 31, 2012 – Pfizer Inc. reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, helped by cuts in research spending and other costs, and affirmed its 2012 profit forecast despite the negative impact of the stronger dollar.
The largest U.S. drug maker, whose shares rose 1.6 percent In premarket trading, said on Tuesday that it earned $3.25 billion, or 43 cents per share, in the second quarter. That compared with $2.61 billion, or 33 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding special items, Pfizer earned 62 cents per share. Analysts, on average, expected 54 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Pfizer’s global revenue fell 9 percent to $15.06 billion, hurt by generic competition against its Lipitor cholesterol fighter, but topped Wall Street expectations of $14.87 billion.
The company said its earnings beat was fueled by better-than-expected sales of Lipitor, nerve pain treatment Lyrica and its Enbrel drug for rheumatoid arthritis. It also cited declines in research spending, selling and administrative expenses, and costs of goods sold.
Pfizer in June said it planned to separate its animal health unit into a standalone company, allowing it to focus on its core pharmaceuticals business. On Tuesday Pfizer said it plans by mid-August to ask regulators to approve a potential initial public offering of up to a 20 percent ownership stake in the new animal health business, to be called Zoetis.

Boeing profit up on rising plane deliveries

CHICAGO, Wed Jul 25, 2012 – Boeing Co. reported an increase in second-quarter profit on Wednesday as rising airplane deliveries offset higher pension costs.
The plane maker and defense contractor reported a profit of $967 million, or $1.27 per share, compared with $941 million, or $1.25 per share, in the year-ago quarter.
Sales rose 21 percent to $20 billion, boosted by commercial aircraft sales.

PepsiCo earnings top Wall Street forecast

PURCHASE, N.Y., Wed Jul 25, 2012 – PepsiCo Inc. reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by price increases, and stood by its full-year outlook.
That the maker of Diet Pepsi, Frito-Lay snacks and Tropicana orange juice did not cut its outlook was viewed as a sign of strength at a time when many consumer products companies are suffering from a weak global economy.
“In a consumer group seeing negative second-half revisions, we consider this positive,” said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Mark Swartzberg.
PepsiCo said second-quarter net income had fallen to $1.49 billion, or 94 cents per share, from $1.89 billion, or $1.17 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, earnings were $1.12 per share, topping the analysts’ average estimate of $1.09, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue fell 2 percent to $16.5 billion, in line with Wall Street estimates.
The decline resulted in part from a loss of revenue in China and Mexico after the company sold the bottling operations in those countries to franchisees. The stronger U.S. dollar, which reduces the value of overseas revenue, also cut into sales.
Excluding those items, organic revenue rose 5 percent, with contributions of 1 percentage point from volume and 4 percentage points from price increases.
Volume rose 6 percent in the snack business and 1 percent for the beverage business. In the Americas, volume rose 5 percent in snacks and fell 1 percent in beverages. In Europe, volume rose 1 percent in snacks and fell 2 percent in beverages.
The company affirmed its 2012 outlook, which calls for earnings per share to fall 5 percent from the $4.40 it earned in 2011. It expects revenue to grow by a mid-single-digit percentage rate, excluding the reduction from refranchising its businesses in China and Mexico.

Wholesale inventories rise in May, sales decline

WASHINGTON, Wed Jul 11, 2012 – U.S. wholesale inventories edged higher in May despite a big drop in stocks of oil, a U.S. Commerce Department report showed on Wednesday.
Total wholesale inventories increased 0.3 percent to $484.1 billion, matching the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.
The government revised slightly lower its estimate for inventory growth in April.
Inventories are a key component of the government’s calculation of gross domestic product. Many economists think economic growth slowed in the second quarter, and the data on wholesale inventories appeared unlikely to change that view.
Stocks of durable goods, such as autos, computer equipment and machinery, rose 0.6 percent. Petroleum stocks fell 3.6 percent.
Sales at wholesalers in May fell 0.8 percent, held back by a 4.7 percent decline in petroleum sales. It was the sharpest drop for both readings since March 2009.
At May’s pace of sales, it would take businesses 1.18 months to clear their inventories, the highest such reading since July 2011.

PepsiCo, Coke Enterprises beat Wall Street forecasts

NEW YORK, Thu Apr 26, 2012 – PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Enterprises reported higher-than-expected quarterly profits and stood by their full-year forecasts, helped by price increases on sodas.

Like most food and beverage companies, PepsiCo and Coke Enterprises raised prices to offset higher commodity costs. But those price increases can often hurt sales volume.

PepsiCo said net income was $1.13 billion, or 71 cents per share, in the first quarter, down from $1.14 billion, or 71 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings were 69 cents per share, in line with management’s expectations, but 2 cents ahead of analysts’ estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net revenue rose 4 percent to $12.43 billion, driven by price increases. Currency exchange rates reduced revenue growth by 1 percentage point.

Volume rose 2 percent in the company’s Americas Foods unit as strength in Latin America offset declines at the North American units of Frito-Lay and Quaker Foods. The Americas Beverages unit’s volume fell 1 percent.

The company stood by its 2012 outlook, which calls for earnings to fall 5 percent from the $4.40 per share reported for 2011. PepsiCo expects net revenue growth in the low single-digit percentage range for this year.

For PepsiCo, 2012 is a transition year as it ramps up marketing, cuts thousands of jobs and streamlines its portfolio in a bid to improve performance, especially in its North American drink business.

The company has lagged Coca-Cola Co as even its flagship Pepsi-Cola has fallen to No. 3 among soft drinks in the United States, behind Coca-Cola and Diet Coke.

Also on Thursday, Coke Enterprises reported first-quarter earnings of 36 cents per share, topping the analysts’ average estimate of 33 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.The company, which bottles Coca-Cola Co drinks in Europe, also affirmed its full-year forecast for earnings per share to rise about 10 percent.

Wells Fargo reports higher fourth-quarters earnings

SAN FRANCISCO ― Wells Fargo & Co. reported higher fourth-quarter earnings as the bank set aside less money to cover bad loans.

The fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets said it earned 73 cents per share. The average estimate from analysts was 72 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income applicable to common shareholders was $3.89 billion, compared with $3.2 billion, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier.

The San Francisco-based bank recorded a loan-loss provision of about $2 billion, which was down from about $3 billion a year earlier. For the seventh straight quarter the bank reversed reserves the bank had previously booked for bad loans.

The bank’s total loans increased about $9.5 billion from the end of September to $769.6 billion at the end of December. The loan growth mirrored a trend shown when JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) reported earnings on Friday.

Wells Fargo said it purchased 27 million shares of its common stock in the fourth quarter, plus an additional 6 million shares through a transaction that will settle in the first quarter of this year.

“I’m extremely pleased with Wells Fargo’s performance in 2011 – including strong deposit and loan growth, record cross-sell and record earnings,” CEO Jon Stumpf said in a statement.