Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: More good earnings news

June 17, 2010

KROGERCheck out the latest batch of encouraging earnings reports.

Sure, the stock markets don’t know where to go, unemployment is still very high and the floor of the Gulf of Mexico is gushing oil, but several consumer and retail companies delivered some good news in the form of strong quarterly results.

Kroger, the No 1 U.S. grocery store chain, seems to be withstanding the challenge to its business from Wal-Mart, where groceries account for half of sales, and reported solid quarterly results. That is all the more impressive  given that Wal-Mart has been shaving prices of many of its grocery items, just as Kroger’s pricing war with Safeway and Supervalu has begun to ease.

Ravenous consumption of peanut butter helped J.M. Smucker beat Wall Street’s expert forecasts, and higher hog and pork prices helped Smithfield Foods lower its loss.  Smithfield, by the way, wants to buy what stake in turkey processor Butterball it does not already own.

Home-goods retailer Pier 1 Imports  posted a surprise quarterly profit, enjoying the growing demand for home goods seen by larger rivals Williams-Sonoma and Bed Bath & Beyond in a sign of an improving economy.  Same-store sales, a key measure of retail health, grew 14.3 percent for the first quarter at Pier 1.

But as if to remind people how delicate the economy’s recovery is, U.S. jobless claims rose again last week.

Also in the basket:
- World Cup fever boosts UK retail sales in May

- Rakuten to buy French online mall

-Patent suit can proceed against Staples 


(Reuters photo)

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