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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: A smorgasbord of consumer earnings to parse

April 29, 2010

tide1Check out the smorgasbord of quarterly earnings in the consumer sector.

Among the many companies to report earnings on Thursday were P&G, Burger King, OfficeMax, Colgate,  Fortune Brands, Bunge, Kellogg, Safeway and Mead Johnson. As usual, there was something for investors of all stripes.

P&G, for example, posted a better-than-expected profit, helped by its biggest volume gain in more than four years. That would please the optimists.

The pessimists, however, had their news to focus on as the world’s largest household products company, known for its Tide detergent (pictured), also forecast results for the current quarter below Wall Street’s expectations. Go figure.

Burger King reported a smaller profit, blaming severe winter storms during the period for weaker sales in North America, and the CEO said warned that high levels of unemployment and underemployment remained the biggest headwind.

Agricultural processor Bunge posted a weaker-than-expected profit and cut its full-year outlook. OfficeMax, the No. 3 U.S. offices supplies retailer, posted a higher profit as it gained market share and kept a tight lid on costs.

Meanwhile, Fortune Brands, known for alcohol, home products like Moen faucets and golf gear, affirmed its outlook from Tuesday in reporting its stronger profit and said it saw consumers “getting more active,” including stronger-than-expected remodeling activity in the housing sector.

Colgate posted a sharp rise in sales, but its profit fell as it took a hefty charge to account for high inflation in Venezuela. Kellogg, the world’s largest cereal maker, saw a sharp jump in quarterly profit, but it declined to raise its full-year outlook. Supermarket operator Safeway reported a lower profit and repeated its 2010 earnings forecast. Baby formula maker Mead Johnson posted stronger-than-expected earnings.

Also in the basket:

Wal-Mart to tighten beef safety measures

Tiffany to consolidate headquarters staff in NY

Hugo Boss looks to bright second half after weak Q1

Unilever volume growth drive brings Q1 payoff

(Reuters photo)

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