Wal-Mart profit misses Wall Street forecasts as U.S. sales weak

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Thu May 16, 2013 — Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s quarterly profit just missed Wall Street expectations on Thursday, with sales down 1.4 percent at its Walmart U.S. stores open at least a year.

The world’s largest retailer said U.S. sales suffered from a delay in income tax refund checks, cool weather, less grocery inflation than expected, and the payroll tax increase.
Shares of Wal-Mart fell 2.3 percent in premarket trading to $78. The stock had hit a new high of $79.96 on Wednesday.
Wal-Mart earned $3.78 billion, or $1.14 per share, in the first quarter ended on April 30, up from $3.74 billion, or $1.09 per share, a year earlier.
The analysts’ average forecast was $1.15 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. In February, Wal-Mart had forecast a profit of $1.11 to $1.16 per share.
First-quarter revenue rose 1 percent to $114.19 billion.
Same-store sales at Walmart U.S. fell 1.4 percent, while the company had earlier expected such sales to be about flat. Visits to Walmart U.S. stores open at least a year fell 1.8 percent, while the average amount spent per visit rose 0.4 percent.
Wal-Mart forecast earnings of $1.22 to $1.27 per share for the current second quarter, up from $1.18 a year earlier.
The company said it expected second-quarter same-store sales, excluding those of fuel, to be flat to up 2 percent at Walmart U.S. and up 1 percent to 3 percent at its Sam’s Club warehouse store chain.

Whole Foods store sales accelerate, shares rise

AUSTIN, Texas, Wed May 8, 2013 — Whole Foods Market Inc. said store sales have rebounded as it expands efforts to lower prices and reach beyond its core of upscale shoppers by adding more locations, and its shares rose more than 8 percent after hours.
The news from the largest U.S. natural and organic grocery chain dispelled concerns that its store sales were slowing due to competition and sluggish U.S. economic growth.
Same-store sales, a key gauge of performance for retailers, rose 6.9 percent for Whole Foods’ fiscal second quarter that ended April 14. So far this quarter, those sales are up 9.4 percent.
“The demand for fresh, healthy foods continues to grow,” John Mackey, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market, said in a statement.
About three weeks into the second quarter, Whole Foods had said its same-store sales growth had cooled to 6.4 percent, dampened by winter storm Nemo and a shift in the day of the week of Valentine’s Day. Analysts also attributed the slower growth to the U.S. payroll tax increase that lowered take home pay.
This quarter’s sales results got a 200 basis point boost from Team Member Appreciation Double Discount Day, but still showed the kind of improvement investors were seeking.
“Even though the 9.4 (percent gain) is more like a 7.4 (percent gain), it’s still a pick up,” BB&T Capital Markets analyst Andy Wolf said.

Chrysler posts best February U.S. sales in five years

DETROIT, Fri Mar 1, 2013 — Chrysler Group LLC said Friday its U.S. sales of 139,015 in February rose 4 percent from 133,521 a year before and were its best February sales in five years.

The sales tally barely missed the consensus estimate of 140,159 from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

The automaker, majority owned by Fiat SpA, said sales of the Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat brands posted year-to-year increases, while the Chrysler and Jeep brands saw declines from a year before.

Chrysler is the first of the major automakers to report February sales.

Industry sales in February were expected to show a fourth straight month of seasonally adjusted annualized sales above 15 million vehicles, for the first time since early 2008, a sign of a sustained recovery after the recession.

At Chrysler, Dodge brand sales in February rose 30 percent to 55,639. Ram Truck sales were up 2 percent to 23,827 and Fiat 500 sales were up 2 percent to 3,302.

Jeep brand sales fell 16 percent to 31,164 and Chrysler brand sales dropped 7 percent to 25,083.

Chrysler said some Jeep vehicles have been in short supply, with the discontinuation of the Liberty last summer and the recent launch of the 2014 Grand Cherokee.

Lockheed sees higher earnings, weaker sales for 2013

BETHESDA, Md., Thu Jan 24, 2013 — Lockheed Martin Corp., the Pentagon’s biggest supplier, said on Thursday that it expected higher earnings this year despite weakening sales, citing a record backlog and continued efforts to cut costs.

Lockheed, which builds everything from F-35 fighter jets, national security satellites to new coastal warships, said earnings per share had dropped 19 percent to $1.73 in the fourth quarter from $2.14 a year earlier, reflecting a large noncash pension adjustment, higher income tax expenses and a special charge for job cuts in its aeronautics division.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected fourth-quarter earnings of $1.82 a share.

Lockheed said it expected earnings per share to rise to between $8.80 and $9.10 in 2013, noting that its outlook assumed that the U.S. Congress would avert $500 billion in additional Pentagon spending reductions known as “sequestration” that are due to take effect over the next decade, starting in March.

Chain store sales point to a hit from tax hike

WASHINGTON, Wed Jan 23, 2013 — A slowdown in sales growth at many big U.S. retailers suggests a clutch of tax hikes enacted this month is already leading consumers to hold back on spending, putting a brake on economic growth.

Sales growth has cooled for three straight weeks when measured from a year earlier in the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index, data showed on Wednesday.

Similarly, the ICSC U.S. retail chain store sales index, which is the other major weekly barometer of retail spending, has showed weakening of growth in the last two weeks.

“We can very tentatively say that these numbers look consistent with our view that the increase in taxes at the start of 2013 led to a slowdown in consumer spending,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

Washington this month raised taxes on most Americans.

The brunt of the tax hike came from the expiration of a temporary payroll tax cut. That cut — a 2 percentage point reduction in a levy that funds Social Security — was put in place two years ago to help the economy, which was still smarting from the 2007-09 recession.

About 160 million workers pay this tax, and the increase will cost the average worker about $700 a year, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

Congress and President Barack Obama also allowed income tax rates to rise this month for households making more than $450,000 a year, a partial repeal of tax cuts put in place under President George W. Bush. The wealthy will also pay a new tax to help fund a health insurance reform passed in 2010.

These will have a smaller impact on the wider economy because they affect fewer people. But taken together, this year’s tax hikes could subtract a full percentage point from growth, JPMorgan estimates.

Some economic data appears to be bearing out economists’ predictions.

Compared to the same week one year earlier, the Redbook index rose 1.8 percent in the week ending Jan. 19, down from 1.9 percent in the Jan. 12 week and 2.1 percent in the Jan. 5 week. Sales were up 2.9 percent in the Dec. 29 week from a year earlier.

 

Boeing books 47 net new plane orders in latest week

CHICAGO — Boeing Co. said it booked 50 new orders for planes in the latest week, including orders for 31 of its wide body 777 jets, worth about $9 billion at list prices.

Customers also canceled orders for three planes – one 747, one 777 and one 787 — bringing the net increase in orders to 47 for the week. So far this year, Boeing has booked net orders for 1,115 planes.

The 50 new orders include four 767s for FedEx Corp., one 777 for the Republic of Iraq, and 15 737s and 30 777s for customers that Boeing did not identify.

The company did not say which customers had canceled orders.

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.

Abercrombie seen as early winner in Thanksgiving clothing sales

NEW YORK, Mon Nov 26, 2012 – Abercrombie & Fitch Co. seemed to come out ahead of other clothing retailers during the annual Black Friday kickoff to the holiday shopping season, analysts said on Monday.

Abercrombie and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. were among the perceived winners in a four-day weekend when some stores opened on Thanksgiving night and people shopped online in greater numbers than ever before.

The National Retail Federation trade group reported on Sunday that total sales for the four days from Thanksgiving through Sunday had risen 12.8 percent to $59.1 billion. That is down from a 16.4 percent increase last year.

Abercrombie, which operates the Hollister chain in addition to its namesake stores, “was the clear winner,” with the longest lines and units per transaction during the weekend, according to Oppenheimer analyst Pamela Quintiliano.

Pending home sales rise modestly in September

WASHINGTON, Thu Oct 25, 2012 — Contracts to buy previously owned homes rose far less than expected in September, an industry group said on Thursday, but the data continued to point to an improving tone in the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in September, gained 0.3 percent to 99.5.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected signed contracts, which become sales after a month or two, to rise 2.1 percent after declining 2.6 percent in August.

“This means only minor movement is likely in near-term existing home sales, but with positive underlying market fundamentals they should continue on an uptrend in 2013,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

The housing market is steadily healing after collapsing in 2006, supported by modest job gains, increased job security and record low mortgage rates. Pending home sales were up 14.5 percent in the 12 months to September.

Contracts were up in three of the country’s four regions. They fell 5.8 percent in the Midwest to the lowest rate since January.