Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: How Lowe’s can you go?

August 16, 2010

lowes1Check out the weaker-than-expected earnings at Lowe’s.

Giving fuel to pessimists about the U.S. economy, Lowe’s, the No. 2 home improvement chain behind Home Depot, posted a quarterly profit and sales that missed analysts’ expectations, and also forecast lackluster earnings in the current quarter, underscoring “limited visibility into near-term demand.”

Sales at companies like Lowe’s had benefited immensely from the homeowner tax credit and cash for appliances programs, but now more and more uncertainty seems to be the watchword.

Last week, retailer J.C. Penney forecast a full-year profit below Wall Street’s expectations, stoking fears it would need further discounts to clear out inventory. That was a day after department stores Kohl’s and Nordstrom gave conservative profit outlooks.

“We are taking a relatively conservative approach to the economic climate and especially the moderate consumer,” Chief Executive Myron Ullman said.

U.S. retail sales rebounded in July but showed hints of lingering economic softness. However, investors can search for more clues this week with earnings from retail giant Wal-Mart Stores.

Also in the basket:

H&M July sales surge, seen winning market share

Kirin enjoys record H1 profit but outlook unchanged

SABMiller aims to fend off Heineken in S. Africa

(Reuters photo)

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