Tag Archives: Consumer Goods

J.C. Penney: CIT Cash Advances Still Flowing to Suppliers

By The Associated Press

SAN BRUNO, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  A customer leaves a JCPenney store on February 28, 2013 in San Bruno, California.  J.C. Penney Co. reported a 31.7 percent drop in fourth quarter earnings with a net loss of $552 million, or $2.51 per share compared with a loss of $87 million, or $0.41 one year ago. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

PLANO, Texas — J.C. Penney says that CIT, the largest lender in the clothing industry, is still supporting deliveries from its suppliers. The department store operator also says it has ample liquidity to run its business.

Shares rose more than 7 percent in premarket trading Thursday.

On Wednesday, a New York Post report said that CIT Group Inc. (CIT) had stopped providing financial support to small and large suppliers selling to J.C. Penney stores — for now. The report said CIT made the decision after meeting with J.C. Penney officials to examine the company’s books.

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) said Thursday that CIT assured it that the newspaper report is untrue.

CIT is what the industry calls a “factor,” which makes cash advances to suppliers based on the goods they sell to the merchant. If vendors and factors become wary of a store’s creditworthiness, the retailer may have to pay suppliers cash upfront for goods, which could be a huge drain on liquidity. If suppliers stop shipping goods, it can be a death knell for a retailer.

Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney said that merchandise from CIT-supported suppliers currently makes up less than 4 percent of its overall inventory for the year.

J.C. Penney said that it still has the support of all of its key vendors, which are continuing shipments to the company. The retailer, which has 1,100 stores, anticipates closing the second quarter with about $1.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet.

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Shares climbed $1.09, or 7.5 percent, to $15.69 in premarket trading about two hours before the market open Thursday.

J.C. Penney is trying to reverse its fortunes after disastrous results under a failed transformation plan implemented by its former CEO Ron Johnson. Johnson was ousted in April after 17 months on the job. The board brought back former CEO Mike Ullman, who has reintroduced frequent sales and is bringing back key merchandise under store names like St. John’s Bay.

Analyst Deborah Weinswig of Citi Investment Research says J.C. Penney won’t see a recovery in its business until 2014. The analyst said in a client note that she’s been surprised that “quick fixes,” like bringing back coupons, hasn’t led to stronger sales and doesn’t think this will change in the near term. The analyst lowered the chain’s rating to “Sell” from “Neutral” and cut its price target to $11 from $20.

J.C. Penney doesn’t comment on analyst reports.


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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

H&M Finally Begins Online Sales in the U.S.

By Reuters

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By Anna Ringstrom

STOCKHOLM — Budget fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz launched an e-commerce operation in the U.S. on Thursday, taking on rivals in the world’s biggest online market.

The initiative is highly anticipated and follows successive delays. But retail experts say H&M may struggle to make the kind of profits from U.S. e-commerce enjoyed by pricier rivals.

H&M has prospered in the United States without a big online presence and is mindful of the likely impact on profit margins of the high shipping and return costs associated with such a vast country.

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However, with more and more shoppers buying clothes from home, the Swedish firm is speeding up its online roll-out to capture a slice of the growing market.

H&M has grown fast in recent years in the U.S., its second-biggest market, but has twice pulled back from announced dates for the online launch, blaming unexpected complexities in setting up an operation well-integrated with its stores.

Meanwhile, its main rival Inditex and others such as online e-store ASOS have expanded in the market, while Amazon (AMZN) is pushing further into apparel after eBay (EBAY) prospered with its fashion offering.

“You don’t want to lose out on being the port of call for younger shoppers. So H&M should really get in there,” Planet Retail consultant Isabel Cavill said.

Apparel has become one of the fastest-growing online retail segments. H&M has e-stores in eight European countries and says they are now as profitable as its bricks-and-mortar shops.

In North America, a quarter of clothing sales will take place on the Internet in 2030, up from 7 percent in 2011, Goldman Sachs (GS) predicts. Researcher Euromonitor International sees the U.S. online apparel market more than doubling in a decade to $41 billion in 2017.

“Generations of shoppers are growing up for whom the multi-channel is a basic expectation,” said Kantar Retail consultant Bryan Roberts.

Mind the Returns

H&M has been struggling to work out a viable logistics model in the country, where many shoppers expect free deliveries.

“H&M is low-price, quite low-margin and makes it work by selling very high volumes. An issue with that is very high costs for shipping and, most significantly, returns. It’s a particular problem in the U.S.,” Conlumino consultant Neil Saunders said.

Up to half of fashion items sold online are returned. At H&M, a shopper may well buy up to three times as many items than at Zara or ASOS. Analysts place average prices at Zara at least 40 percent above H&M’s, with ASOS in between.

H&M’s U.S. online store offers free shipping but charges for returns. Items bought online cannot be returned in stores.

“I’m particularly surprised by the lack of multichannel. …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Strong Yen Helps Sony Return to Profit in Latest Quarter

By Engadget

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Itsuo Inouye/AP

Sony’s first earnings report of the new financial year is in and it eked out a profit, albeit a small one. The $35 million net profit is an improvement from last year’s results for the same period, and the good news is most pronounced in its mobile products and communications department. Revenue grew 36 percent from last year, partially due to changes in the value of the yen, but also thanks to higher sales for smartphones — 9.6 million units — and a higher average selling price. The games division recorded an operating loss for the quarter, as sales of the PS3, PSP and PS2 dropped slightly while spending on research and development for the upcoming PlayStation 4 rose. Sony’s new TV strategy may have shown some results, with year-on-years sales up 18.2 percent and attributed to an “improved product mix in LCD TVs” and cost reductions.

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Pfizer Posts Upbeat Earnings, Plans Generics Spin-Off

By Reuters

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Pfizer reported second-quarter earnings slightly ahead of forecasts Tuesday as the U.S.’ largest drugmaker lines up a business split that could lead to the spin-off of its generics division.

The company, which has been hit by falling sales of its now off-patent cholesterol fighter Lipitor, reaffirmed its financial outlook for the year.

For the second quarter, adjusted income fell 10 percent to $4.00 billion, or 56 cents a share, from $4.45 billion, or 59 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue fell 7 percent to $12.97 billion.

Analysts, on average, were expecting second-quarter income of 55 cents a share, on revenue of $13.01 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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Pfizer (PFE), whose CEO Ian Read has been reviewing the group’s structure after divesting its nutrition and animal health businesses, said Monday it planned to separate its commercial operations into two units for branded products and a third for generics.

Read said Pfizer’s new model would help revitalize its innovation-based core drugs business, while enhancing the value of consumer and off-patent established brands, and maximizing the use of capital.

Pfizer’s generics business, which represents 17 percent of total sales, has far lower profit margins than its patent-protected drugs.

Many analysts have urged Pfizer to spin off its generics business so it can focus on its core branded pharmaceuticals, although such a move is unlikely before 2016.

Within the core drugs division, revenues from cancer medicines increased by 28 percent in the second quarter, helped by new products like Inlyta and Xalkori.

Read also said he expected business in emerging markets to accelerate in the second half of the year, led by China.

“From a total company view, we are tracking to our expectations for the full year and continue to capitalize on the investments we are making to better position Pfizer for long-term success,” he added.

Pfizer reiterated that it expected full-year earnings of $2.10 to $2.20 a share.

Lipitor and Prevnar Hits

The 7 percent fall in quarterly revenue reflected an operational decline of 4 percent and an unfavorable impact from foreign exchange of 3 percent.

Operationally, the biggest hit came from losses of exclusivity on Lipitor, while shifts in government purchasing patterns for bulk orders of Pfizer’s Prevnar pneumococcal vaccine also took their toll.

The U.S. drugmaker’s determination to reshape its business is part of a wider trend by pharmaceutical companies around the world to divest slower-growing and maturing operations.

Abbott Laboratories’ (ABT) decision to split off its innovative drugs into AbbVie, in particular, has fueled a wider rethink across the industry as to whether other companies or groups of investors may be better owners for certain assets.

In Europe, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Market Minute: Starbucks Milks Yogurt Deal; Apple Earnings Shine

By DailyFinance Staff

starbucks greek yogurt dannon stocks investing earnings consumer spending

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Starbucks plans a big new product line, and a case of when bad is good. Those and more are what’s making business news Wednesday.

The Dow industrials (^DJI) rose 22 points Tuesday, enough for another all-time high. But the S&P 500 (^GPSC) lost 3 points, and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) fell 21.

AFP/Getty Images

Starbucks (SBUX) continues to expand beyond coffee. It’s joining forces with Dannon to make Greek yogurt parfaits. The fast-growing yogurt business in the U.S. is worth more than $6 billion, and analysts say there’s still plenty of room to go. Last year, Starbucks expanded its tea business by acquiring the Teavana chain.

Apple’s (AAPL) quarterly earnings fell 22 percent from a year ago, but that wasn’t as bad as most analysts had forecast. Revenue edged higher as it shipped more than 31 million iPhones. That was well above expectations and the stock is likely to climb this morning.

AT&T’s (T) net edged slightly lower, but on the positive it reported the number of new customers signing long-term service contracts nearly doubled from a year ago.

Ford (F) reported better-than-expected second quarter earnings in part due to strong domestic demand for its F-Series pickups. The automaker earned $1.2 billion in the April-June period, propelled by a $2.3 billion profit in North America. Ford shares rose 3 percent in premarket trading.

Among other big names reporting this morning: Boeing (BA), Caterpillar (CAT), Delta Air Lines (DAL) and USAirways (LCC).

Other stocks likely to make big moves to the upside following earnings include video gamemaker Electronic Arts (EA) and software company VMWare (VMW); like to trade to the downside, chipmaker Broadcom (BRCM) and restaurant chain Panera Bread (PNRA).

The big report after the bell today comes from Facebook (FB). The focus will be on how much the company grew its revenue from mobile platforms.

The New York Times (NYT) reports officials in Louisiana are preparing to file suit against Exxon Mobil (XOM), BP (BP) and other oil producers, accusing them of damaging the coastal wetlands that help protect the region from hurricanes.

A new report shows that Google (GOOG) accounts for nearly a quarter of all the Internet traffic in North America. That’s more than Facebook and Twitter combined.

And Carl Icahn, one of those big time investors who can move stock prices, is offering a tease about what he’ll do next. CNBC reports that Icahn plans to give clues about his next big investment on Twitter. His handle is @Carl_C_Icahn.

Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.
<br …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Stock Futures Point Higher Ahead of Numerous Earnings Reports

By IBTimes

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Richard Drew/AP

By Sreeja VN

U.S. stock futures point to a higher open Wednesday, ahead of the publication of new home sales data and quarterly earnings statements from major American companies, including Facebook, Ford, PepsiCo, Qualcomm, Visa and Boeing.

Futures on the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) were up 0.2 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) were up 0.3 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.9 percent.

Investors are expected to focus on new home sales data for June, to be released by the Commerce Department, at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Analysts expect new home sales — the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month — may probably increase to 485,000 in June from 476,000 in the previous month.

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New home sales had recorded a better-than-expected gain in May, helped by a pick-up in demand, while existing home sales data for June, which was released Monday, showed a decline. Analysts attributed the fall to a recent hike in mortgage interest rates and believe new home sales could still increase in June.

“With the NAHB current sales index still rising strongly, we have penciled in an increase in new sales from 476,000 in May to 485,000,” Paul Diggle, an economist with Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.

On the earnings front, a number of major companies, including Caterpillar (CAT), Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY), EMC Corp. (EMC), US Airways Group, (LCC), Ford (F), PepsiCo (PEP) and Boeing (BA), will announce quarterly earnings before market hours. Visa (V), Western Digital (WDC), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Facebook (FB) are to announce their earnings after markets close Wednesday.

Markit Economics’ flash Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI, for the manufacturing sector in the month of July, is scheduled to be released at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The index, which measures the activity level of purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector, is expected to show a reading of 52.5 in July, up from the 51.9 recorded in June. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

European markets were trading higher Wednesday, as investor sentiments were buoyed after flash PMIs for the euro zone’s manufacturing and services sectors beat expectations. The 17-nation eurozone’s manufacturing PMI for July came in at 50.1 compared to 48.8 in the previous month. The services PMI registered a reading of 49.6 compared to 48.3 in June.

Germany’s manufacturing PMI came in at 50.3 in July, up from 48.6 in June while the nation’s services PMI was at 52.5 in July, up from 50.4 in June. Meanwhile, in neighboring France, while the …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Consumer Prices Driven Higher by Jump in Gas Prices

By Reuters

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WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer prices rose more than expected in June as gasoline prices jumped, but underlying inflation pressure remain benign against the backdrop of lukewarm domestic demand.

The Labor Department said Tuesday its Consumer Price Index increased 0.5 percent, the largest increase since February, after nudging up 0.1 percent in May. Gasoline prices accounted for about two thirds of the increase in the CPI.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected consumer inflation to increase 0.3 percent last month.

In the 12-months through June, consumer prices advanced 1.8 percent after rising 1.4 percent in May. It was also the largest increase since February.

Stripping out volatile energy and food, consumer prices increased 0.2 percent for a second straight month. That took the increase over the 12 months to June to 1.6 percent, the smallest increase since June 2011. The so-called core CPI had increased 1.7 percent in May.

While both inflation measures remain below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, details of the report suggested the recent disinflation trend had probably run its course, with medical care costs rising.

There were also increases in the prices for new motor vehicles, apparel and household furnishings. That could keep on track expectations the U.S. central bank will start scaling back its massive monetary stimulus in September.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who last month said the central bank would start cutting back the $85 billion in bonds it is purchasing each month to keep borrowing costs low, has viewed the low inflation as temporary and expects prices to push higher.


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Hike in Payroll Taxes Hasn't Halted U.S. Consumer Spending

By The Associated Press

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images


WASHINGTON — This year got off to a sour start for U.S. workers: Their pay, already gasping to keep pace with inflation, was suddenly shrunk by a Social Security tax increase.

Which raised a worrisome question: Would consumers stop spending and further slow the economy? Nope. Not yet, anyway.

On Friday, the government said consumers spent 3.2 percent more on an annual basis in the January-March quarter than in the previous quarter — the biggest jump in two years. It highlighted a broader improvement in Americans’ financial health that is blunting the impact of the tax increase and raising hopes for more sustainable growth.

Consumers have shed debt. Gasoline has gotten cheaper. Rising home values and record stock prices have restored household wealth to its pre-recession high. And employers are steadily adding jobs, which means more people have money to spend.

“No one should write off the consumer simply because of the 2 percentage-point increase in payroll taxes,” says Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group. “Overall household finances are in the best shape in more than five years.”

Certainly, spending weakened toward the end of the January-March quarter. Spending at retailers fell in March by 0.4 percent, the worst showing in nine months. And more spending on utilities accounted for up to one-fourth of the increase in consumer spending in the January-March quarter, according to JPMorgan Chase (JPM) economist Michael Feroli, because of colder weather.

Higher spending on utilities isn’t a barometer of consumer confidence the way spending on household goods, such as new appliances or furniture, would be.

Americans also saved less in the first quarter, lowering the savings rate to 2.6 percent from 3.9 percent in 2012. Economists say that was likely a temporary response to the higher Social Security tax, and most expect the savings rate to rise back to last year’s level. That could limit spending.

But several longer-term trends are likely to push in the other direction, economists say, and help sustain consumer spending. Among those trends:

Wealth Is Up

Home prices rose more than 10 percent in the 12 months that ended in February. And both the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and Standard & Poor’s 500 (GSPC) stock indexes reached record highs in the first quarter. As a result, Americans have recovered the $16 trillion in wealth that was wiped out by the Great Recession. Economists estimate that each dollar of additional wealth adds roughly 3 cents to spending. That means last year’s $5.5 trillion run-up in wealth could spur about $165 billion in additional consumer spending this year. That’s much more than the $120 billion cost of the higher Social Security taxes.

Debt Is Down

Household debt now equals 102

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Hasbro's First-Quarter Loss Widens on Charges

By The Associated Press

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Hasbro says its first-quarter loss widened as the toy maker absorbed heavy restructuring charges and foreign exchange rates flattened its international revenue. The performance still topped Wall Street expectations.

The Pawtucket, R.I., maker of Transformers and Monopoly says it lost $6.7 million, or 5 cents a share, in the three months ended March 31. That compares with a loss of $2.6 million, or 2 cents a share, a year ago.

But Hasbro Inc. (HAS) earned 5 cents a share when a restructuring charge is excluded. Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 4 cents a share.

Revenue rose more than 2 percent to $663.7 million despite a hit of more than $3 million from foreign exchange rates.

Analysts expected $642.1 million in revenue.


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From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/22/hasbro-earnings/

Can Returning CEO Ullman Revive Penney's Fortunes?

By The Associated Press

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NEW YORK — The return of the old guard at J.C. Penney have sent shares higher this week, even with major U.S. indexes suffering one of the worst downturns this year.

J.C. Penney brought back former CEO Mike Ullman to lead the company last week and he has already rehired one of his former executives forced out under Ron Johnson.

Johnson, the former Apple Inc. (AAPL) executive, was ousted himself last week after a disastrous 17 months at the helm.

The familiar faces have received a positive response on Wall Street, which has driven the stock up nearly 4 percent this week even as the S&P 500 slumped 3 percent.

At least one analyst that follows the company sees a precedent for Ullman’s second act.

Citigroup’s Deborah Weinswig said that bringing back old-hands worked successfully for BJ’s Wholesale Club in 2007, when Herb Zarkin as put back in the CEO‘s chair.

Zarkin rehired three key members of his former team to run merchandising, marketing and store operations. Over the next 12 months, revenue at comparable stores rose 3.7 percent, compared with the modest 1.2 percent increase in the prior-year period.

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One of Ullman’s first actions was to rehire Ken Mangone as executive vice president of product development, design and sourcing. He had left in December 2012. Nick Wooster, fashion blogger and a former executive at luxury stores such as Neiman Marcus who had taken on his role, is now out. Penney also announced this week that two other Johnson hires — Michael Kramer, chief operating officer, and Ken Walker, chief talent officer — are now gone.

Penney’s shares are still down 65 percent since early last year but investors appear to embrace an old familiarity.

Weinswig points out that Ullman had a deep bench that he could exploit.

“As of now, it’s a two-man band, but there are other former JCP executives available who could come to work for their former band leader,” Weinswig said.

Weinswig believes the merchandising, planning and allocation and store organization remains in good shape.

Liz Sweney, Penney’s chief merchandising officer and the head merchants in women’s, accessories, men’s and home were all with Penney during Ullman’s previous tenure. But she says the areas of marketing, finance, human resources and operations are lacking talent.

“We further suspect that there could be additional vacancies at lower levels of the organization, which JCP will need to fill,” Weinswig wrote. She says of utmost importance is finding a president or chief operating officer to serve as Ullman’s right hand man.

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP), based in Plano, Texas, is in a cash crunch and is exploring ways to bolster its cash reserves.

Johnson had planned to reinvent the company by getting rid of coupons, bringing in new brands and

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/20/mike-ullman-revive-penneys/

Kimberly-Clark Posts Higher Profit on Strong Int'l Growth

By Reuters

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Jeff Chiu/AP

Kimberly-Clark posted a bigger-than-expected jump in first-quarter earnings and raised its forecast for the year Friday as the maker of Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers saw strong growth in its international markets and cut costs.

The company, which competes against larger rival Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) in categories such as diapers and paper products, said it cut $85 million in costs during the quarter.

Shares of the company rose 2.6 percent to $104 in trading before the market opened.

Excluding items such as restructuring costs, Kimberly-Clark earned $1.48 a share, well ahead of an average forecast by analysts of $1.34, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income rose to $531 million, or $1.36 a share, from $468 million, or $1.18 a share, a year earlier.

Sales rose 1.5 percent to $5.32 billion, topping analysts’ forecast of $5.28 billion.

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In personal care, the company’s largest segment with products such as Huggies diapers, North American sales were flat as a 1 percent price increase offset lower sales volumes. Sales of these products rose 4 percent in international markets, helped by a 2 percent price increase and growth in countries such as China, Russia and South Korea.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. (KMB) said it expected to post 2013 earnings a share of $5.60 to $5.75, excluding items, versus its prior target of $5.50 to $5.65. The analysts’ average forecast is $5.59.

While the company has been cutting some expenses, materials and distribution costs rose in the quarter. Input costs were up $35 million from a year earlier, with increases of $15 million for fiber, $10 million for other raw materials and $10 million for distribution, it said.

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From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/19/kimberly-clark-earnings/

Mattel's First-Quarter Earnings Rise on Solid U.S. Sales

By The Associated Press

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Alan Diaz/APBarbie products on display at a toy store in Hialeah, Fla., in July 2012. Mattel on Wednesday reported higher earnings on higher sales of its products.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Mattel’s first-quarter net income more than quadrupled, as sales of Monster High and American Girl products rose.

The first-quarter is the seasonally smallest for toy makers, coming after the busy holiday quarter. The latest earnings increase was helped by comparison with a period that included a big charge a year ago.

“We continue to see the first quarter as our pre-season and we remain focused on a strong 2013 and delivering in the all-important holiday season,” Chairman and CEO Bryan Stockton said in a statement.

The world’s largest toy maker’s net income for the January-to-March quarter totaled $38.5 million, or 11 cents a share. That’s up from $7.8 million, or 2 cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 8 cents a share.

The prior-year period’s results were weighed down by costs tied to its $680 million acquisition of HIT Entertainment, the company behind Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder.

Revenue climbed 7 percent to $995.6 million from $928.4 million. Wall Street expected $984.2 million.

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Mattel Inc. (MAT) saw solid sales across North America and overseas. American Girl gross sales increased 32 percent, while worldwide gross sales of other girls’ brands — which includes Monster High — surged 56 percent.

Barbie’s worldwide gross sales dipped 2 percent, marking the fourth time sales have fallen in the past five quarters. Sales for the Wheels category, which includes the Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Tyco R/C brands, also fell 2 percent. For the Fisher Price brands, sales declined 7 percent.

Mattel also said Wednesday that it declared a second-quarter dividend of 36 cents a share. The dividend will be paid on June 14 to shareholders of record on May 23. The El Segundo, Calif. company anticipates an annualized dividend of $1.44 a share, which would be a 16 percent increase over last year’s annualized dividend.

Mattel’s smaller rival Hasbro Inc. (HAS) reports its financial results on Monday.


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From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/17/mattel-earnings/

U.S. Retailers Report March Sales Rose Modestly

By The Associated Press

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Mike Groll/AP

NEW YORK — U.S. retailers are reporting a key revenue figure rose slightly in March, as shoppers held back on spending because of the cold weather across the nation, particularly the Midwest and East Coast, and continued fears about the economy.

Overall, 14 retailers reported on Thursday that revenue at stores open at least a year — a key indicator of retail health — rose an average of 0.6 percent, according to research firm Retail Metrics. Including drugstores, the number was slightly higher, up 1.5 percent.

“While clearly that’s not a great number by any stretch, it could have been worse,” said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics. “Wintry weather conditions persisted deep into March depressing spring apparel, home and garden, and seasonal merchandise sales.”

He expects April to be stronger, as the weather improves and customers respond to strong fashion trends such as colorful jeans. An earlier Easter, which meant one less selling day in March, will also help April results, he said.

The number of retailers reporting monthly sales figures has been shrinking. Big names like Target Corp. (TGT), Macy’s Inc. (M) and Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) have recently stopped reporting. Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, hasn’t reported monthly sales figures in several years.

Revenue in stores open at least one year is a key measure of a retailer’s financial health, because it excludes stores that open or close during the year.

Retailers who do report had a mixed month, with those with more stores on the East Coast, where the weather was cold and wet, faring worse than stores on the West Coast.

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TJX Cos. (TJX), which operates TJX and Home Goods stores, said revenue in stores open at least one year fell 2 percent, while analysts expected a 1 percent drop. The company said that the drop was due to the weather and the Easter shift, and they expect a stronger April.

“Overall business trends improved as the weather became warmer,” said CEO Carol Meyrowitz. “April is off to a good start, our inventories are in great shape, and we are seeing an enormous amount of desirable product in the marketplace.”

L Brands, formerly Limited Brands Inc. (LTD), the parent of Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works, says the revenue figure was flat, above analyst expectations for a drop, according to Thomson Reuters.

Warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp.’s (COST) revenue figure rose 4 percent in March, short of expectations for a 5.2 percent rise.

Department store operator Stein Mart Inc. (SMRT) said revenue at stores open at least a year dropped 2.8 percent in March, falling short of Wall Street predictions. The company said sales were hurt by cold

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/11/march-retail-sales-rise/

Japanese Automakers Recall 2 Million Cars For Defective Airbags

By The Associated Press

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Toyota, Honda and Nissan are recalling more than 2 million vehicles globally for an identical problem involving the inflator for passenger side airbags that may burst, sending plastic pieces flying.

No injuries have been reported related to the problem.

The recall for air bags made by Japan‘s Takata Corp. affects other automakers including non-Japanese manufacturers, and may be as many as 3 million vehicles, Takata spokeswoman Akiko Watanabe said Thursday. She declined to give details.

Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) is recalling 1.7 million vehicles, with some 580,000 in North America, another 490,000 in Europe and 320,000 in Japan. Affected models include the Corolla, Tundra, Lexus SC, produced between November 2000 and March 2004.

Toyota said it had received five reports of air-bag problems, three in the U.S. and two in Japan, but there have been no injuries.

The automaker suffered a blow to its reputation from a series of massive recalls in 2009 and 2010, including faulty braking, sticky gas pedals and defective floor mats, partly a reflection of how various models used the same parts to save costs. But the latest recall is affecting other major automakers as well.

Honda Motor Co. (HMC) is recalling 1.1 million vehicles. About 680,000 are in North America, 270,000 in Japan and 64,000 in Europe. The models include the Civic, CR-V and Odyssey.

The automakers have reported the problem to the Transport Ministry in Japan, and will be reporting other recalls later in the day in other regions, they said.

The recall extends to Latin America, China, other Asian nations, the Middle East and Africa.

Nissan Motor Co. recalled 480,000 vehicles globally, some 137,000 of them in Japan, for the air bag problem.

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The Yokohama-based automaker said vehicles in North America and Europe are affected, but didn’t immediately have other details on its 343,000 overseas recalls.

Recalled models in Japan include the Cube, X-Trail, Maxima and Teana, made from August 2000 to January 2004, spokesman Chris Keeffe said.

The problem crept in because of two human errors during production. A worker forgot to turn on the switch for a system weeding out defective products and parts were improperly stored, which exposed them to humidity, according to Honda spokeswoman Akemi Ando.

Also affected under the same recall were the RX-8 and Mazda 6 at Mazda Motor Corp.

The Hiroshima-based automaker said 45,000 vehicles were recalled, including 4,000 in Japan. It didn’t give numbers for other regions, but said recalls will be announced in North America, Europe, China and other nations.

Japan‘s Transport Ministry said the recall affects nearly 732,000 vehicles in Japan.

Takata stock plunged as much as 15 percent before closing down 9 percent. Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda shares rallied in Tokyo,

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/11/honda-toyota-nissan-mazda-airbag-recall/

Family Dollar Says Earnings Hurt by Delay in Tax Refunds

By Reuters

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Family Dollar reported a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, blaming a delay in tax refunds for hurting sales at the end of January and early February.

The discount retailer also warned it would have weak sales of discretionary items such as apparel and home goods heading into the rest of its financial year. Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO) cited financial pressures facing customers and unseasonably cold spring weather.

“Our customers’ discretionary spend is expected to remain constrained,” Chief Executive Howard Levine said in a statement.

In the second quarter ended March 2, net income rose to $140.1 million, or $1.21 a share, from $136.4 million, or $1.15 a share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, looked for a profit of $1.22 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 17.7 percent to $2.89 billion, meeting Wall Street expectations.


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Macy's, J.C. Penney Resume Court Battle Over Martha Stewart

By The Associated Press

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David Handschuh, The (New York) Daily News/AP Martha Stewart testifies in New York State Supreme Court on March 5. Stewart, 71, is at the center of a bitter legal battle between Macy’s and J.C. Penney that resumed Monday.


NEW YORK — Attorneys for J.C Penney and Macy’s were back in court Monday to fight over the Martha Stewart brand after a monthlong mediation period went nowhere.

But after the hearing, the real action began. J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) said late Monday, that the company’s board of directors has ousted CEO Ron Johnson after only 17 months on the job and rehired Johnson’s predecessor, Mike Ullman, 66, who was CEO of the department store chain for seven years until November 2011.

The case, which centers on Macy’s Inc.’s (M) claim that Penney’s deal to sell Martha Stewart branded-merchandise infringes on its own deal with the domestic diva, was likely just one of the reasons Johnson was shown the door. He also had presided over a price strategy that confused customers and drove them away.

The court-ordered mediation followed nearly three weeks of testimony from witnesses including the domestic diva herself, Penney, Johnson and Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren.

At issue is whether Macy’s has the exclusive rights to sell some Martha Stewart branded products such as cookware, bedding and bath products. Macy’s sued Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO), arguing that the company breached its long-standing contract when it signed a deal with Penney in December 2011 to open Martha Stewart mini-shops, planned for this spring. It also sued Penney, contending that it had no regard for the contract and that Johnson had set out to steal the business that Macy’s had worked hard to develop.

The stakes are high for all three companies involved but particularly for Penney, which is counting on a revamped home area to help it rebound from a disastrous year. The company amassed nearly $1 billion in losses and its revenue dropped about 25 percent as the first year of a transformation plan built around a new pricing strategy failed to resonate with shoppers.

Penney was counting on the overhauled home department as part of its bigger plan to turn Penney stores into mini-malls of sorts. It’s in the midst of rolling out 20 shops in its home area featuring products from such designers as Michael Graves and Jonathan Adler. Martha Stewart mini-shops were expected to anchor the home area.

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But those plans are in limbo. Penney had ordered goods like towels and cookware from Martha Stewart Living and were planning to name the goods JCP Everyday, to sidestep a conflict. But Macy’s is trying to stop the retailer from selling goods covered by Macy’s exclusive category even if they don’t carry the Martha …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

J.C. Penney Taps Former CEO Mike Ullman to Revive Its Fortunes

By The Associated Press

jcpenney ceo mike ulllman ron johnson ousted

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Mark Lennihan/AP Mike Ullman was named CEO of J.C. Penney after Ron Johnson was ousted Monday, after a massive restructuring at the retailer backfired.


NEW YORK — J.C. Penney is hoping its former CEO can revive the retailer after a risky turnaround strategy backfired and led to massive losses and steep sales declines.

The company’s board of directors ousted CEO Ron Johnson after only 17 months on the job. The department store chain said late Monday, in a statement, that it has rehired Johnson’s predecessor, Mike Ullman, 66, who was CEO of J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) for seven years until November 2011.

The announcement comes as a growing chorus of critics including a former Penney CEO, Allen Questrom, called for Johnson’s resignation as they lost faith in an aggressive overhaul that included getting rid of most discounts in favor of everyday low prices and bringing in new brands.

The biggest blow came Friday from his strongest supporter, activist investor and board member, Bill Ackman, who had pushed the board in the summer of 2011 to hire Johnson to shake up the dowdy image of the retailer. Ackman, whose company Pershing Square Capital Management, is Penney’s biggest shareholder, reportedly told investors that Penney’s execution “has been something very close to a disaster.”

On Saturday, Ullman received a phone call from Penney’s chairman Thomas Engibous asking him to take back his old job, according to Penney spokeswoman Kate Coultas. The board met Monday and decided to fire Johnson.

Neither Johnson nor Ullman were available for an interview.

Until early last week, some analysts thought the board would give Johnson, a former Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Target Corp. (TGT) executive, until later this year to reverse the sales slide. A key element of Johnson’s strategy was opening new shops featuring hot brands to help turn around the business. They began opening last year and had been faring better than the rest of the store.

“I truly believed that he had until holiday 2013,” said Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist Belus Capital Advisers. “Today’s announcement is an indictment of his strategy.”

Under Ullman, the chain brought in some new brands such as beauty company Sephora and exclusive names like MNG by Mango, a European clothing brand, but he didn’t do much to transform the store’s stodgy image or to attract new customers. He’s expected to serve mostly as a stabilizing force, not someone who will make changes that will completely turn the company around.

“What they need is a little bit of stability and essentially adult supervision,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy. “[Ullma]) did nip-and-tuck surgery. But this was a place that needed radical surgery,” Johnson said.

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Sozzi said he …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

5 Things to Watch This Week

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz

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From an established homebuilder going public to the leading used car retailer slamming on the brakes long enough to announce quarterly results, there will be plenty of news waiting to break in the coming days. Let’s go over some of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.

1. Home IPO, Sweet Home IPO: Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’re probably aware that residential real estate has bounced back in a major way. Prices are inching higher, and available inventory is thinning out.

If you are sleeping under said rock, by the way, at least make sure it has central air, indoor plumbing, and room for a pool.

As homebuilders see their financials and share prices improve, privately held developers now want in on the action. TRI Point Homes (TPH) went public earlier this year, and this week it will be Taylor Morrison Home hanging the “Open House” sign on its IPO.

Taylor Morrison Home is hoping to raise roughly $500 million as it offers 23.8 million shares priced at $20 to $22 apiece. The stock should price on Tuesday for this developer that happens to be one of country’s 10 largest homebuilders. Taylor Morrison Home should then begin trading on Wednesday.

2. Facebook Calls an Audible: Facebook (FB) unveiled a new platform for Android devices last week, and Facebook Home makes its debut on Friday.

The new program will run on some of the latest Android wireless devices, aiming to make the smartphone experience more about people than apps.

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Phones with Facebook Home installed will boost up to a screen where Facebook notifications are front and center with the latest photos uploaded by friends serving as a background. It’s more impressive than it sounds, and more importantly it’s reversible — it’s just a matter of uninstalling the program.

A bolder move by Facebook — HTC First — will also hit the market Friday. This is what many in the media are now calling the Facebook Phone since it’s optimized for the new application. Even if the phone itself doesn’t sell well, the future of Facebook Home can still be bright.

3. Good Buy, Ruby Tuesday?: The climate for casual dining is challenging. The end of the payroll tax stimulus is giving diners less money to eat out. It’s certainly not helping that hungry customers are choosing “fast casual” places that provide quality food quickly at lower price points and without the tipping rite.

Ruby Tuesday (RT) has been a laggard, and a new CEO was brought in late last year to attempt a turnaround. The new helmsman has shed …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Looking to Lure Younger Men, Old Spice Expands Bar Soap Line

By The Associated Press

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NEW YORK — Old Spice is raising the bar, literally.

The aftershave brand, which is known for appealing to more mature men, is introducing a line of scented soap bars this month.

It may seem odd that Procter & Gamble Co. (PG), which has fought in recent years to refashion its 75-year-old Old Spice brand to target younger men, is rolling out something that some people consider antiquated.

After all, not much has changed with bar soap since P&G introduced Ivory soap in 1879. Body wash has eclipsed bar soap sales in 2010, according to research firm Euromonitor International.

Bar soap sales edged up just 1 percent in the U.S. between 2007 and 2012 to $1.62 billion, according to the firm’s data. Meanwhile, body wash revenue jumped 30 percent during the same period to total $2.44 billion.

But Old Spice executives say their interviews with thousands of men each year indicate that bar soap is popular among men. Some say it’s what they grew up with, others prefer the “squeaky clean” feeling of bar soap and others just like that it’s cheaper than body wash, he said.

“We know that 42 percent of guys use bar soap in the shower, but only 15 percent of bar soap has ‘manly’ scents,” said Jason Partin, Old Spice brand manager.

The rest are odor neutral or have feminine scent, he said, leaving an opening for Old Spice.

The new soaps come in Old Spice‘s three most popular scents: “Fiji,” a summery scent, “Power Sport,” a fresher, clean scent, and “Swagger,” which is slightly musky. They’re aimed at 25- to 34-year-old men, and will cost $3.99 for a 6-pack and $1.79 for a 2-pack.

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To rev up interest, the company is rolling out an ad campaign on Tuesday that includes spots that make fun of jingle-laden soap commercials from the 1980s.

One shows a man showering with the soap in a gym locker room and then cutting open a basketball to reveal a watermelon-like inside. “It’s a really weird commercial for soap,” the accompanying jingle trills.

Another shows a man showering with the soap and then having the shower following him everywhere — even when he is in the middle of operating on a patient and when he goes out to dinner with a beautiful woman.

“The freshness will follow you all through your day,” the jingle states. “This could actually be a fairly serious problem.”

Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer product maker whose products range from Tide detergent to Crest toothpaste and Gillette razors, has focused on rolling out new products in North America as it lowers costs to boost its bottom line.

Old Spice, with about $564 million in annual sales, according to Bernstein estimates, is not a large …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

GM Plans to Invest $332 Million in 4 U.S. Factories

By The Associated Press

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DETROIT — General Motors plans to invest $332 million into four factories in three Great Lakes states to build new, more efficient engines and transmissions.

The spending at plants in Toledo, Ohio; Bedford, Ind.; and Flint and Bay City, Mich., will allow the company to build a new V-6 engine, a new small motor and new eight-speed automatic transmissions, GM said Thursday. The company also added $46 million to a prior investment at plants in Romulus and Saginaw, Mich., to build the new V-6.

No jobs will be added, but General Motors Co. (GM) said the investments preserve 1,650 jobs at the six factories.

The investment also will help GM build more six-speed automatic transmissions as auto sales continue to rise in the U.S. Sales this year are expected to climb as high as 15.5 million cars and trucks, 1 million more than last year. Through March, GM sales are up just over 9 percent.

GM wouldn’t give details about the new engines and transmissions, nor would it say what cars and trucks would get the new powertrains. It also wouldn’t say exactly when they would be available, for fear of tipping competitors to its product plans.

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The company did say that the money will help start a new family of three- and four-cylinder engines that range from 1 liter to 1.5 liters. Presently the smallest motor GM makes in the U.S. is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that goes into the Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic, as well as other models.

Last summer CEO Dan Akerson told employees that the company was behind its competitors in engines and transmissions, saying that GM has six-speed transmissions when competitors have up to 10 gears. Transmissions with more gears allow engines to do less work and save fuel.

The investments announced Thursday should improve GM‘s technology in relation to its competitors, said Arvin Jones, GM North America manufacturing manager. “We think the investments we’re making will give us a competitive advantage and position us very well,” he told reporters.

The investments are part of $1.5 billion that GM plans to spend on its North American factories this year. So far the company has announced projects totaling $1.2 billion in the U.S. Another $250 million was announced for a GM assembly plant in Ingersoll, Canada.

The investments announced Thursday include:

  • $215 million for the Flint Engine Operations in Flint, Mich., where the new three- and four-cylinder engines will be built. The plant also will get upgraded machinery for a V-6 engine that it currently builds.
  • $55.7 million for Toledo Transmission Operations in Toledo, Ohio, to build a new eight-speed transmission and expand capacity to build an existing six-speed transmission. The new transmission will be used in “numerous” GM vehicles by the end of 2016, the company said in a statement.
  • $31.7 …read more

    Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance