Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: The earnings week that was

August 1, 2008

food.jpgCheck out what we learned this week.
 
After a busy week of earnings, it is time to step back and see what we learned about the state of the U.S. consumer and the companies that serve them.
 
They are still buying food and for the most part swallowing the price increases food companies are pushing through in order to mitigate rising commodity costs.
 
Kraft Foods soundly beat analysts estimates, while Kellogg Co was a penny ahead of Wall Street’s expectations and raised is forecast for the year.
 
Consumers are balking at expensive coffee drinks. Starbucks posted its first quarterly loss as a public company and said the chain would shrink in the coming year. It also had yet another management shake-up.
 
Consumers are not buying clothes for the fall yet in earnest, but some are buying shoes and handbags. Jones Apparel said revenue fell in the quarter on flat apparel sales at stores open at least a year. Comparable store sales rose 5.8 percent at its shoe stores.
 
The economy looks better from Paris than New York, as Louis Vuitton handbag maker LVMH reported stronger-than-expected profit and said things should not get worse on the economic front. At the same time, U.S. rival Coach met expectations and gave a very cautious outlook, saying the “consumer malaise” would last well in to 2009.
 
Companies expect commodity costs to continue to rise in the coming year. Clorox, on Friday lowered its forecast for the current fiscal year because of rising costs.
 
People in the rest of the world are buying cosmetics, which helped Avon overcome slow U.S. sales.
 
And lastly, if you sell cigarettes outside the United States, especially in emerging markets, your business might be doing better than if you sell them in the United States.
 
Also in the basket:
 
July jobless rate highest in four years
 
Crisis in Credit: One year on, what’s next?
 
An offer for Jil Sander (WWD, subscription required)

(additional reporting by Martinne Geller)

 (Photo: Reuters)

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