Correspondent, Chicago
James's Feed
Oct 16, 2013

American wallets tighten up in government shutdown

DETROIT/CHICAGO (Reuters) – A deal over the U.S. budget crisis and government shutdown cannot come soon enough for many companies.

American consumers have put away their wallets, at least temporarily, avoiding purchases of big-ticket items like cars and recreational vehicles while Republican and Democratic Party lawmakers argue over fiscal policy.

Oct 2, 2013

Shutdown, debt fight highlight Republican distance from ‘big business’

By Gabriel Debenedetti and James B. Kelleher

(Reuters) – Big business, a traditionally powerful but pragmatic player in Republican policy-making, has found itself outflanked and marginalized by smaller conservative groups opposed to compromise in the country’s current fiscal crisis and the looming showdown over the debt ceiling.

As the shutdown of the government approaches its third day, business leaders and groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are worried about the economic implications of a standoff over the debt limit, but their pleas have not moved the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives to action. Meanwhile right-wing groups like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action have gained traction, particularly as Tea Party-aligned lawmakers rise in prominence.

Sep 27, 2013

CEOs take familiar, frustrating path to Washington on budget woes

By James B. Kelleher and Patricia Kranz

(Reuters) – Some of America’s leading CEOs are beating a familiar path to Washington to support a stopgap bill to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and avert a government shutdown, warning lawmakers that the specter of the first debt default in the country’s history and a credit downgrade is damaging the economy.

The business leaders, all members of a group called “Fix the Debt,” said they went to Capitol Hill last week with a simple message for Republicans and Democrats, but it is the same as the one they delivered in budget standoffs of 2011 and 2012.

Sep 25, 2013

Insight: Wal-Mart ‘Made in America’ drive follows suppliers’ lead

By Jessica Wohl and James B. Kelleher

(Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc, whose focus on low-cost sourcing helped to fuel the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing, has been promoting a patriotic new image in recent months.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company says it is “leading an American renewal in manufacturing” and “bringing jobs back to the U.S.” with its pledge made in January to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made goods over the next 10 years.

Sep 25, 2013

Wal-Mart ‘Made in America’ drive follows suppliers’ lead

Sept 25 (Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc, whose focus
on low-cost sourcing helped to fuel the offshoring of U.S.
manufacturing, has been promoting a patriotic new image in
recent months.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company says it is “leading
an American renewal in manufacturing” and “bringing jobs back to
the U.S.” with its pledge made in January to buy an additional
$50 billion in U.S.-made goods over the next 10 years.

Sep 1, 2013

Analysis: Caterpillar plan illustrates risk of variable pay plans

PEORIA, Ill (Reuters) – Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has put workers on notice that its short-term incentive plan, the centerpiece of a performance-based, profit-sharing program, will make its smallest payout since the recession when the payments go out next March.

Like a lot of companies, the world’s largest maker of mining and construction equipment has adopted what is known as a “pay-at-risk” compensation system, which ties a percentage of nearly every non-union employee’s income to Caterpillar’s financial performance.

Aug 21, 2013

Analysis: Polaris Industries: A midcap for daredevils only?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Polaris Industries Inc’s (PII.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) relaunch this month of the Indian motorcycle, a storied U.S. brand older than Harley-Davidson, has pulses racing on and off Wall Street.

But should investors in the maker of all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and motorcycles be tightening their chin straps for more fun ahead – or dumping their shares?

Aug 14, 2013

Analysis: Lower crop prices a pain for Deere, but farmers are fine

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Wall Street’s frosty reaction on Wednesday to Deere & Co’s (DE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) latest quarterly earnings is no surprise given the recent sharp drop in agricultural commodity prices. Farmers buy fewer tractors and harvesters when corn and soybean prices are down.

But the dramatic drops in corn and other prices over the past year are not causing a lot of pain on the farms. At least not yet. With income at records highs, farmland fetching top dollar and balance sheets strong, a drop in grain prices in the face of another record crop is hardly a sign of doom for growers.

Aug 14, 2013

Deere profit jumps; concerns over farm-belt spending

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Deere & Co (DE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday on strong sales of its tractors and harvesters in the Americas. But concerns that farm-belt spending and commodity prices were poised to weaken sent shares lower.

Earlier this year, Deere, the world’s largest maker of agricultural equipment, lowered its outlook for fiscal 2013 revenue, saying a cooler-than-normal spring in North America had depressed sales. Some investors worried the softness was a sign of a new normal as corn prices have retreated from the all-time highs of last summer.

Aug 14, 2013

Deere posts strong profit, but farmbelt spending a concern

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Deere & Co (DE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) reported a much higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday on strong sales of its tractors and harvesters in the Americas, but some analysts said the results represented the high-water mark for the company in the current farm cycle.

Deere also said sales for the current quarter would be 5 percent lower than a year earlier. Its shares fell more than 1 percent.