Chesapeake fourth quarter profit tops Street, shares rise

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Thu Feb 21, 2013 — Chesapeake Energy Corp. reported fourth-quarter profit that topped Wall Street estimates on Thursday, helped by lower-than-expected expenses and more profitable oil production.

Shares of Chesapeake rose nearly 2 percent to $20.60 before the start of regular trading.

The earnings report came a day after Chesapeake said an internal investigation of the financial dealings of its outgoing chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, found no “intentional” wrongdoing.

McClendon is stepping down in April following a tumultuous year during which the company faced a liquidity crunch and a governance crisis. Now Chesapeake’s board and big shareholders are working to rein in spending, pay down debt and increase production of more profitable oil.

McClendon, who founded the company in 1989, was not quoted in the earnings release as he typically is.

Phil Weiss, an analyst with Argus Research, said expenses in a number of areas came in below his projections while cash flow was higher than he anticipated.

Home prices rise for eighth month in September: S&P

NEW YORK, Tue Nov 27, 2012 — Single-family home prices rose in September for an eighth straight month in a further sign that the housing market is on the mend, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.4 percent in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, in line with economists’ forecasts.

The index’s eighth month of gains on a seasonally adjusted basis is the longest since prices bounced in 2009 after the government unleashed stimulus measures following the market’s collapse the previous year.

“This is the positive trend that prices have been on for the past year. The housing sector continues to recover,” said Peter Hooper, global chief economist at Deutsche Bank.

Prices in the 20 cities rose 3.0 percent year over year, just topping expectations for a rise of 2.9 percent.

“In September’s report all three headline composites and 17 of the 20 cities gained over their levels of a year ago,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s, said in a statement.

Honeywell’s profit rises 10 percent, tops Wall Street view

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J., Fri Oct 19, 2012 – Diversified U.S. manufacturer Honeywell International Inc. reported a 10 percent rise in quarterly earnings as declining natural gas prices helped boost profits at its UOP chemical arm, offsetting weakness in Europe.

The maker of aircraft electronics and building control systems said on Friday that third-quarter earnings came to $950 million, or $1.20 per share, compared with $862 million, or $1.10 per share, a year earlier.

The results came in 6 cents per share ahead of the analysts’ average estimate of $1.14, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Honeywell tightened its full-year profit forecast to a range of $4.45 to $4.50 per share. Its previous outlook was $4.40 to $4.55, and analysts had expected $4.50.

“Looking ahead to 2013, we are planning for a continued challenging macro environment, but expect to deliver good growth,” Chief Executive Officer Dave Cote said in a statement.

Third-quarter sales were up less than 1 percent to $9.34 billion, shy of Wall Street’s $9.51 billion target. Sales rose 4 percent at the company’s aerospace arm, reflecting strength in commercial aviation, but fell 10 percent at the transportation systems unit on weak European demand for automotive turbochargers.

Honeywell shares fell 1 percent to $60.80 in premarket trading.

Retail sales point to stronger third-quarter consumer spending

WASHINGTON, Mon Oct 15, 2012 – U.S. retail sales rose in September as Americans bought more cars and gasoline, while a gauge of consumer spending pointed to stronger-than-expected economic growth in the third quarter.

Retail sales increased 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Monday, beating expectations after an upwardly revised 1.2 percent rise in August.

Retail sales outside of autos, gasoline and building materials – a barometer of consumer spending known as core retail sales – rose 0.9 percent last month.

That was well above the 0.3 percent gain expected by analysts in a Reuters poll, and suggests consumers did more to drive economic growth in the July-September period than economists had expected.

Consumer spending drives about two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

Sluggish demand and a punishing drought restricted the economy to a 1.3 percent annual growth pace in the April-June period. Before the retail sales report was released, economists were expecting growth to accelerate to a 1.6 percent pace in the third quarter, according to a Reuters poll.

The details of the report showed broad strength across retailers, with sales of motor vehicles and parts up 1.3 percent. Receipts at gasoline stations rose 2.5 percent, reflecting an increase in prices paid at the pump.

Other categories were also strong, with sales at electronics retailers up 4.5 percent, while sales at food and beverage stores rose 1.2 percent.

Home prices rise in August: CoreLogic

NEW YORK, Tue Oct 2, 2012 – Home prices rose in August as the housing market continued to gain traction, but recent gains could start to wane as the summer comes to an end, data analysis firm CoreLogic said on Tuesday.

CoreLogic’s home price index rose 0.3 percent from July and was up 4.6 percent compared with a year ago. It was the biggest year-over-year increase since July 2006.

Excluding distressed sales, price gains were even larger. Home values rose 1 percent compared with the month before and were up 4.9 percent on a yearly basis.

Homes that have been seized by banks or are in danger of being foreclosed are often sold at significantly reduced prices.

Many economists believe the battered housing market has finally turned a corner this year as prices have stabilized.

Still, the report forecast prices will fall 0.3 percent in September as the traditional summer buying boost wears off. Prices are expected to be up 5 percent compared with a year before.

Stripping out distressed sales, prices are seen up 0.6 percent in September and up 6.3 percent from a year ago.

Of the top 100 statistical areas measured by population, 20 showed year-over-year declines, down from 26 in July.

Home prices rise for 6th month, sign sector recovering

NEW YORK, Tue Sep 25, 2012 – U.S. home prices rose for a sixth straight month in July in the latest sign of a sustainable housing market recovery, while a jump in consumer confidence this month offered a harbinger that Americans are ready to loosen their spending.

Six years after its collapse, economists believe the housing market has turned a corner.

Two separate reports on Tuesday showed that home prices rose in July, though the gains were not as strong as the previous month. That follows recent data that home resales and groundbreaking on new properties rose in August, while business sentiment among homebuilders hit a more than six-year high this month.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas rose 0.4 percent in July on a seasonally adjusted basis. Economists had expected a gain of 0.9 percent, which would have matched June’s advance. Case Shiller is one of the most closely watched barometers of the U.S. housing market.

On a non-adjusted basis, prices were up 1.6 percent.

The gain in house prices supports the view that “even with the broader economic recovery struggling to gain traction, the housing recovery is sustainable,” wrote Paul Diggle, property economist at Capital Economics.

Housing has regained its footing at the same time as the broader economic recovery has lost traction. The economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter, and economists say it is not likely to fare much better in the current quarter.

Energy, food prices push up wholesale inflation in August

WASHINGTON, Thu Sep 13, 2012 – Producer prices rose by the most in three years in August as the cost of energy surged, a government report showed on Thursday, but underlying inflation pressures were contained.

The Labor Department said its seasonally adjusted producer price index increased 1.7 percent last month, the largest gain since June 2009 and accelerating from July’s 0.3 percent rise.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected prices at farms, factories and refineries to rise 1.1 percent last month.

Wholesale prices excluding volatile food and energy costs rose 0.2 percent, slowing from a 0.4 percent increase in July. The rise matched economists’ expectations.

Despite the rise in overall wholesale inflation last month, there is likely to be little pass-through to consumers given sluggish job growth and tepid domestic demand.

Consumer inflation is currently below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target. Officials from the U.S. central bank were meeting for a second day on Thursday to deliberate on policy.

Jobless claims rise, labor market healing very slowly

WASHINGTON, Thu Aug 23, 2012 –The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, suggesting the labor market is healing too slowly to make much of a dent in the unemployment rate.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the highest level in five weeks.

The data keeps pressure on President Barack Obama ahead of his November re-election bid. His Republican challenger is trying to focus voters’ attention on a lofty unemployment rate that has dogged Obama’s presidency.

Many economists think the Federal Reserve could unveil a new bond buying program to prop up economic growth as soon as its next meeting Sept 12-13, although an improvement in hiring this month could make that less likely.

The report on jobless claims did have a silver lining, however.

The data covers the same week looked at by the government for its monthly measure of employment, and showed a slight drop in layoffs from the survey week last month, which is a mildly positive signal for hiring in August.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a measure of labor market trends, was 368,000 last week. That was a slight increase from the prior week, but still 2.1 percent lower than in the second week of July.

Existing home sales increase in July, reports NAM

WASHINGTON, Wed Aug 22, 2012 – Home resales rose in July as low interest rates and a modest improvement in the labor market helped home buying conditions, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.

The NAR said existing home sales rose 2.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.47 million units last month. That was just below analysts’ expectations of a 4.52 million-unit rate.

Nationwide, the median price for a home resale was $187,300 in July, 9.4 percent higher than in the same month a year earlier.

“Mortgage interest rates have been at record lows this year,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, adding that the labor market was also showing signs of improvement. “Combined, these factors are helping to unleash pent up demand.”

The U.S. housing market, which began falling into a deep rut six years ago, has been a relative bright spot in the economy this year. Home prices have shown signs of stabilizing and many economists think residential construction will give a slight boost to the economy this year.

But home building now plays a much smaller economic role than it did before the 2007-2009 recession, and a turn for the worse in the broader economy could easily undo housing’s incipient recovery.

Morgan Stanley swings to second-quarter profit

NEW YORK Thu Jul 19, 2012 – Morgan Stanley swung to a profit in the second quarter, though revenue declined 24 percent due to a slowdown in trading and dealmaking.
The investment bank reported earnings of $564 million, or 29 cents per share, compared with a loss of $558 million, or 38 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Morgan Stanley also lost money in the first quarter.
The latest results included a $350 million gain from changes in Morgan Stanley’s credit spreads, but earnings generally beat what many analysts had been expecting.
Revenue fell to $6.95 billion from $9.21 billion a year earlier. Revenue from merger advisory dropped 51 percent to $263 million, revenue from underwriting fell 34 percent to $621 million, and equity trading revenue fell 34 percent to $1.22 billion. Wealth management and asset management revenue also fell.
Morgan Stanley said as a result of its credit ratings being downgraded in June, it posted $2.9 billion of extra collateral with trading counterparties in derivatives. Its counterparties were entitled to ask for $6.3 billion under its agreements with them. Moody’s Investors Service cut its ratings on the bank to “Baa1,” three steps above junk, on June 21 as part of a broad re-evaluation of banks exposed to capital markets businesses like stock and bond trading.
Morgan Stanley’s 2011 second-quarter results included a charge linked to the bank’s conversion of preferred stock owned by Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group into common stock.