McDonald’s August same-store sales rise, but miss views

OAK BROOK, Tue Sep 11, 2012 – McDonald’s Corp.  reported a weaker-than-expected 3.7 percent rise in August sales at established restaurants around the world on Tuesday, as austerity measures in Europe and global economic volatility weighed on results.

Analysts polled by Consensus Metrix were expecting a gain of 3.9 percent at restaurants open at least 13 months for the world’s largest hamburger chain.

Still, the results show a rebound from July, the company’s worst month in more than nine years. McDonald’s had flat same-restaurant sales around the world for that period, on slight declines in all three of its major regions.

August same-restaurant sales were up 3 percent in the United States and up 3.1 percent in Europe. Analysts had expected a 3.1 percent rise for the United States and a 3.3 percent increase in Europe.

Europe is McDonald’s No. 1 market for sales, just edging out the United States. Positive results in the UK, France and Russia offset weakness in Germany and certain Southern European markets, the company said on Tuesday.

Best Buy sales disappoint, to cut stores, jobs

RICHFIELD, Minn., Thu Mar 29, 2012 – Best Co. Inc. reported weaker-than-expected sales for the fourth quarter on Thursday, and said it has decided to close 50 big-box stores and to cut 400 jobs in corporate and support areas.

Despite offering bigger discounts, the world’s largest consumer electronics chain saw weak demand for gadgets in the holiday selling season.

Net loss was $1.7 billion, or $4.89 a share, for the fourth quarter ended March 3, compared with net income of $651 million, or $1.62 a share, a year earlier. Excluding charges, it earned $2.47 a share.

Sales rose to $16.63 billion, but fell way short of the analyst average estimate of $17.23 billion.

The retailer said it expects its restructuring efforts to save about $800 million in costs by fiscal 2015, including about $250 million in the current fiscal year.

GM posts weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter

DETROIT – General Motors Co. posted a weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter profit as disappointing performance overseas offset strong results in North America.

“We obviously have work to do still and a long way to get to the objectives we ultimately want to get to,” GM CFO Dan Ammann told reporters.

“We clearly have work to do in Europe. We have work to do in the South America business. Frankly, we have work to do all around the company in terms of cost opportunity,” he added.

Ammann said GM has not gone far enough in cutting costs in its European operations, but declined to provide a 2012 financial forecast for a unit that the No. 1 U.S. automaker has struggled to return to profitability. Overall, GM expects 2012 sales to top the $150.3 billion it saw in 2011 and its market share to remain flat.

Net income attributable to common shareholders was $500 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with $500 million, or 31 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding one-time items, GM earned 39 cents a share, two cents below analysts’ average forecast in a poll by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales in the quarter rose 3 percent to $38 billion, compared with the $38.21 billion analysts had expected.

For 2012, GM expects to raise vehicle prices and contain cost inflation, but the sale of more cars than trucks will hurt profit margins.

GM said its U.S. defined pension plans earned asset returns of 11.1 percent last year, but they ended the year $13.3 billion pension shortfall in pension funding compared with $11.5 billion in 2010. GM expects returns of 6.2 percent in 2012 due to a greater shift to fixed income investments.