Conoco quarterly profit dips, but beats estimates

HOUSTON, Thu Oct 25, 2012 – ConocoPhillips reported a lower third-quarter profit on Thursday that beat analysts’ estimates, as it produced more crude than expected from high-margin fields such as the Eagle Ford and Bakken.

Shares of the U.S. oil and gas company rose 2 percent to $57.11 in premarket trading.

Conoco and other large oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. have been investing more heavily in North American shale formations like the Eagle Ford in south Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota in a bid to boost higher-priced oil production.

“The ramp up in the Eagle Ford is on track or exceeding the market’s expectations,” said Fadel Gheit, oil analyst at Oppenheimer. “They delivered on everything they said they would, and more.”

Third-quarter profit was $1.8 billion, or $1.46 per share, compared with $2.6 billion, or $1.91 per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding items related to asset sales and taxes, the Houston-based company had a profit of $1.44 per share. Analysts on average had expected $1.19.

Oil and gas output in the quarter was 1.53 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from 1.54 million a year earlier. Analysts at Barclays had forecast 1.52 million BOE per day.

Conoco said its fourth-quarter production will increase on a sequential basis, as the company speeds the pace of drilling in the Eagle Ford and more output is expected from its Canadian oil sands properties.

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.

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.

Microsoft rises as better-than-expected PC sales boost profit

REDMOND, Wash., Fri Apr 20, 2012 – Shares of Microsoft Corp rose 4 percent in premarket trading on Friday, after the world’s largest software maker reported a quarterly profit ahead of expectations on better-than-expected sales of personal computers.

The deluge of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which has seen Apple Inc and Google Inc vie for top honors in the consumer electronics market, has left Microsoft trying to reinvent itself to compete in the changing landscape.

Thursday’s results boosted optimism in the company, which expects to launch a new tablet-friendly version of Windows, and at least four brokerages raised their price targets on the stock.

“The product launches should create a positive mix effect on gross margin as was the case in the previous two Windows launches,” Barclays analyst Raimo Lenschow said in a research note to clients.

Lenschow, who has an “equal weight” rating on Microsoft’s stock, raised his price target by $3 to $36.

The company’s shares, which closed at $31.01 on Thursday on the Nasdaq, rose to $32.12 in trading before the bell. The stock touched a 4-year high of $32.95 last month, but has declined 6 percent since.

Johnson & Johnson quarterly profit beats forecast, but sales lag

NEW BRUNSWICK, Tue Apr 17, 2012 – Johnson & Johnson reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings but global company revenue fell slightly on anemic sales of medical devices and consumer medicines – businesses that have been hit by costly recalls in the past two years.

The diversified healthcare company said it earned $3.91 billion, or $1.41 per share, in the first quarter. That compared with $3.48 billion, or $1.25 per share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding special items, J&J earned $1.37 per share, topping the average analyst forecast of $1.35 per share, compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Global company revenue slipped 0.2 percent to $16.14 billion, versus Wall Street expectations of $16.26 billion.

Schlumberger posts profit jump of 36 percent for quarter

HOUSTON ― Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s largest oilfield services company, reported a 36 percent rise in quarterly earnings, beating Wall Street forecasts, but it warned that Europe’s debt crisis could hurt economic growth and trim oil demand.

The International Energy Agency cut its oil demand forecast earlier this week, saying the possibility of a credit crunch in Europe could set off a recession that would cut energy consumption.

Oilfield service companies have benefited from strong crude oil prices, which have prompted their energy-producing customers to hike spending by about 10 percent this year, according to a survey by Barclays Capital.

Schlumberger said in a statement that its planned capital spending would rise by more than 12 percent to nearly $4.5 billion this year, but added that it was “building the required flexibility into our resource plans.”

“This is code for throttling back on spending, at a minimum, if warranted,” Simmons & Co analyst Bill Herbert wrote in a note to investors.

Schlumberger said its growth in North America was driven by business in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, where activity is increasing after the 2010 BP Plc. oil spill brought drilling there to a standstill.

Offshore activity in Africa and land business in the Middle East and North Africa were also strong, the company said.

Still, recent price increases that had helped the onshore business in North America have slowed from the third quarter, according to Schlumberger.

U.S. drilling activity has exploded in recent years as the development of shale rock formations has surged. That has been a boon for Schlumberger and rival Halliburton Co., which reports its quarterly earnings next week.

That drilling has led to a glut of natural gas and pushed prices for the fuel to its lowest levels in a decade, raising expectations that such activity will decline.

Aluminum slump has Alcoa staring at quarterly loss

NEW YORK ― Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, could end up posting a fourth-quarter loss due to a dizzying drop in the metal’s price in the last six months as the euro zone debt crisis and an economic slowdown in China hurt demand growth.

At least five Wall Street analysts cut earnings estimates in the last week and 18 slashed their full-year 2011 estimates since September for Alcoa, which will announce results on Monday after the market closes.

Analyst Bridget Freas of Morningstar in Chicago noted that Alcoa’s fortunes are tied very closely to the price of aluminum, which fell 6 percent in the fourth quarter.

“We have seen a weakening trend in the last few months and it will show in the results,” she said. “Most analysts are blaming what has happened with the LME (London Metals Exchange) price and we ended the year on a low point.”

The price of aluminum fell 18 percent, from $2,470 per tonne at the end of 2010 to $2015 last week. Traders cited the euro zone crisis and China’s economic slowdown for hurting prospects for demand growth that send the metal on a downward track after May.

And that, says Wall Street, can only hurt Alcoa’s bottom line.

“They had a pretty weak quarter and should come in around the break-even mark,” said Freas, who does not give a quarterly estimate. Her full-year estimate of 80 cents per share is unchanged, she said, since she has already factored in the lower metal price.

“They still face high raw material costs , but the biggest driver (of Alcoa’s results) is the price of aluminum.

“They will not be posting the kind of results (they did) at second-quarter levels,” Freas said.

Dollar General profit rises to 42 cents per share for quarter

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. ― Dollar General Corp. posted a bigger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit and raised the low end of its full-year forecast on Tuesday, as it worked to balance demand for low-priced goods with manufacturers’ push to raise prices.

The retailer earned $146 million, or 42 cents per share, in the fiscal second quarter that ended on July 29, up from $141 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.

Earnings of 52 cents per share, excluding items, exceeded analysts’ average forecast of 48 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Dollar General’s customers are buying an increasing proportion of lower-margin necessities as they cut back on discretionary purchases due to higher gas prices, continued high levels of unemployment and other economic concerns.

Sales of items such as candy, snacks and other food continued to increase at a higher rate than merchandise such as home, apparel and seasonal goods during the quarter.

For Dollar General, which prices most of its merchandise below $10, the weak economy is a double-edged sword. As lower-income shoppers seek low-priced food and other basic goods, a soft economy brings new customers into its stores and those of competitors such as Family Dollar Stores Inc.

Dollar General, which has more than 9,640 stores, more than any other chain in the United States, said sales rose 11.2 percent to $3.58 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, increased 5.9 percent.

Chains such as Dollar General need to keep prices low to retain customers, which is difficult when costs are rising and shoppers notice even minor price increases.

Shoppers buying more food and basic goods rather than discretionary items also pressures profitability, as those items generally carry a lower gross profit rate than other goods. At the same time, the prices Dollar General paid for goods rose due to higher commodity and fuel costs.

Gross profit dipped to 32.1 percent of sales from 32.2 percent of sales a year earlier. Over the first six months of the year, gross profit fell to 31.8 percent from 32.2 percent.

Dollar General now expects to earn $2.22 to $2.30 per share for its 53-week fiscal year, versus a prior forecast of $2.20 to $2.30 per share.

It expects sales to rise 12 percent to 14 percent, up from a prior forecast of 11 percent to 13 percent. Same-store sales are now expected to increase by 4 percent to 6 percent, versus an earlier forecast of 3 percent to 5 percent.

Dollar General is majority-owned by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co LP KKR.UL, which brought the company back to the public market in November 2009.