Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Refreshing quarterly earnings


pepsi1Check out the strong earnings results from several companies in the consumer sector.

PepsiCo reported a rise in fourth-quarter earnings in line with expectations, stronger-than-expected sales and maintained its full-year outlook. The maker of Pepsi drinks and Frito-Lay snacks said the volume of snacks sold rose 1 percent, while beverage volume fell by the same amount.

The company, which also owns Tropicana, Quaker and Gatorade, also said it still hopes to complete its $7.8 billion acquisition of its two largest bottlers by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, interactive toy maker LeapFrog posted a fourth-quarter profit that handily beat analysts’ estimates and it forecast strong revenue growth for the year. Apparel manufacturer VF Corp, whose brands include Wrangler, Lee and Vans, rang up a better-than-expected profit on strong demand for outdoor wear, and AutoNation, the largest U.S. auto dealership group, also beat expectations.

Whoopi Goldberg adds “Poise” to her repertoire


Whoopi GoldbergIf it were up to Kimberly-Clark, women would be a lot more open about an issue few people care to discuss out loud.  Care to guess what we’re talking about?

The maker of Poise undergarments has gotten Whoopi Goldberg to start a conversation about what it calls “light bladder leakage.”  The condition affects one out of every three women, according to Kimberly-Clark, but few are open to discussing it.

Check Out Line: Dean spills sour profit report


milkCheck out Dean’s disappointment.

The largest U.S. dairy company found that in a weak economy, consumers do not want to pay more for branded dairy products.

Dean posted a fourth-quarter profit that fell short of Wall Street estimates and also saw 2010 earnings falling below expectations.

Check Out Line: Have a Coke and an in-line quarterly profit


coke1Check out Coke’s quarterly profit.

Coca-Cola reported a fourth-quarter profit that matched Wall Street’s expectations as strong volume in China, India and Brazil offset a decline in North America. Lower costs and market share gains in both the carbonated and noncarbonated segments helped too.

Coke’s growth in the developing markets — fourth-quarter volume rose 7 percent in Latin America and 11 percent in the Pacific region — helped offset a 1 percent volume decline in the closely watched North American market. Volume was up 1 percent in Europe.

Check Out Line: Earnings encouraging, but still hard to peg


HasbroCheck out how hard it is to figure out how well the economy is progressing, based on the earnings of consumer goods companies.

Toymaker Hasbro had a stellar fourth quarter, handily beating Wall Street’s expert forecasts, and said it expected its streak to continue in 2010. Hasbro got a lift from toys tied in with the hit “Transformers” movie and is expected to get even more help from characters such as Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird under a 10-year deal signed last month with the Sesame Workshop.

Check Out Line: P&G CEO more worried than ever


mcdonald1Check out the worries Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald has.

McDonald sat down with Reuters correspondent Jessica Wohl and talked about how his biggest concern is the possibility that President Barack Obama’s administration could choke off corporate growth by imposing taxes on companies’ foreign earnings.

“I am really worried about the United States … more worried than I’ve ever been in my career,” McDonald said at his company’s Cincinnati headquarters. “I worry about the deficit, I worry about an uncertain future.”

Check Out Line: Silver lining in retail land?


SHOPPERSCheck out the January same-store sales results at U.S. retailers.

Same-store sales for last month moved into positive territory from last year’s decline as many chains avoided drastic clearance sales and shoppers redeemed holiday gift cards. Many retailers reported sales that beat analysts’ forecasts, and Macy’s, TJX Cos (TJ Maxx, Marshalls among others) and American Eagle Outfitters raised earnings outlooks, while Bon-Ton Stores said its quarterly profit would be at or near the high end of its outlook.

Analysts on average had expected sales at stores open at least one year to rise 2.5 percent in January, according to Thomson Reuters data, rebounding from a 5.7 percent drop in January 2009. 

Paper? Plastic? At Walmart, the push for reuseable


wmt smallbag 006Three Walmart stores in Northern California are no longer giving shoppers the option of packing their purchases in free plastic bags.

Instead, in stores in Folsom, Citrus Heights and Ukiah, Walmart is offering shoppers resuable bags — a regular sized bag for 15 cents or an oversized bag for 50 cents.

Check Out Line: Walgreen sales catch a cold


WALGREEN/Check out a dose of bad medicine for Walgreen.

Analysts had expected the No. 1 U.S. drugstore chain operator to post a 2.2 percent increase in same-store sales. But the company instead posted a surprise 1.1 percent drop.

Among factors that hurt the company were a calendar shift. This January had one less weekday in it than last year. That might not seem like a big deal, but Walgreen fills more prescriptions during the week so the shift cut 1.3 percentage points from the same-store sales increase.

Pharmacy same-store sales fell 1.2 percent, a decline made worse by the fact that some of those sales have were in the form of H1N1 flu shots, a one-time item.

UPS to U.S. consumer: relax, have an app!


UPS/UPS expects healthy profits in 2010, no thanks to the U.S. consumer the company is trying to entice with iPhone and BlackBerry applications.

Announced in November and December, the free applications enable users to create and track shipments, calculate rates and delivery times and find the nearest UPS location.