Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: A mixed bag of retail results

May 29, 2008

bags.jpgCheck out quarterly results from retail companies, including Sears, Costco, Heinz and Big Lots.

Markdowns? No good for Sears. The company, controlled by Eddie Lampert, posted a surprise loss, hurt by discounts and floundering sales at its Kmart and namesake stores.  Immediate respite is not in sight, Sears said, as consumers juggle higher gasoline and food prices.

But discounts on the right products can mean good fortunes. Costco, for instance, reported a 32-percent jump in profit, thanks to consumers who sought deals on items like food and gasoline. Big Lots, which sells excess inventory, also posted higher profit, thanks to strong sales at stores open at least two years.

Ketchup-maker Heinz benefited from price increases and a weak U.S. dollar and is now hoping for higher annual earnings fueled by growth in emerging markets and health and wellness items.

Also in the basket:

Genesco profit up on settlement gain

Elizabeth Arden, Liz Claiborne in licensing agreement

Coach to buy retail business from distributor

U.S. first-quarter GDP growth revised to +0.9 percent

Food prices to stay high as biofuels blamed

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