Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Mixed financial bag at Talbots


talbots1Check out the mixed results at women’s clothing retailer Talbots.

The company posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as tighter inventory management boosted margins, but demand lagged analysts’ expectations.

Talbots’ second-quarter results echoed those of the prior three-month period, when sales suffered as the retailer did not stock enough merchandise.

“Our top-line sales performance reflects our decision to remain on plan with respect to our promotional event calendar within what proved to be an aggressively promotional environment,” Chief Executive Trudy Sullivan said.

U.S. retailers posted modestly higher-than-expected August sales as consumers sought out bargains during the key back-to-school shopping season. The reports suggested retailers were able to clear excess inventories ahead of the key selling season without having to resort to deep discounts.

Check Out Line: More corporate earnings to parse


walmart1Check out the latest raft of quarterly earnings.

With investors and denizens of Main Street alike dissecting various government reports and company press releases for hints on the relative strength or weakness of the U.S. economy, the latest slew of quarterly earnings arrived to parse, including better-than-expected results from Wal-Mart Stores and Home Depot.

Wal-Mart posted a better-than-expected profit helped by cost cuts and growth in international markets as sales at U.S. stores open at least a year fell. The world’s largest retailer also raised its full-year profit forecast.

Check Out Line: Reading the earnings tea leaves


beam1Check out the latest batch of quarterly earnings to parse in the consumer world.

Fortune Brands and Newell Rubbermaid both posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit and raised their full-year forecasts despite talk of “headwinds” in the second half of the year by the former and a “lackluster economy” by the latter.

Consumer goods maker Fortune Brands said its results were helped by double-digit sales growth for its home and security products. The maker of Jim Beam bourbon, Titleist golf balls and Moen faucets cited headwinds for the rest of the year higher but  still raised its profit outlook.

Check Out Line: Earnings to quench investors’ thirst


pepsi1Check out the latest quarterly earnings for signs of a recovery.

Whirlpool and PepsiCo both reported better-than-expected quarterly profits and pointed to improving trends, lending hope to optimists that the economy is slowly improving.

While citing continuing macroeconomic challenges, PepsiCo, which makes Tropicana juice, Frito-Lay snacks and Quaker Oats in addition to its namesake cola,  posted stronger-than-expected results and affirmed its earnings per share growth target for the fiscal year.

Check Out Line: Retail earnings present a mixed bag

KOHLS/NORDSTROMCheck out U.S. retailers posting better-than-expected profits but seeing their shares fall. 

Kohl’s Corp on Thursday posted quarterly profit that rose more than Wall Street had expected. But the mid-tier department store operator’s shares fell nearly 3 percent after its forecast for the second quarter and full year fell short of analysts’ estimates. 

Check Out Line: Barbie and friends sell well


Check out the stronger-than-anticipated results from Mattel.

Triple H figureThe toy giant notched a 12 percent jump in sales and a surprise profit in its latest quarter, sending a strong signal that toys are getting year-round attention, not just a holiday season boost.

Barbie’s sales rose 5 percent and some newer items, such as the World Wresting Entertainment and Thomas and Friends collections, were very good sellers, Mattel said.  (That’s Triple H showing off his WWE action figure at Toy Fair earlier this year)

Check Out Line: Consumers spending again, just not drinking much


WINECheck out Constellation Brands’ lack of optimism.

Even though shoppers are returning in droves to malls to buy clothes and shoes, based on retailers’ boffo business in March, they are more sober -literally- in their spending on booze.

Constellation, which makes Robert Mondavi wine and owns the Svedka vodka brand, managed to squeeze out a bigger operating profit during its fourth quarter, despite a 3.5 percent drop in sales. It also owns half of a joint venture that imports beers like Corona, but said those sales fell 4 percent.

Check Out Line: Tasty outlook from Brinker


logo_chilis1Check out the tasty outlook coming from restaurant chain Brinker.

The parent of Chili’s Grill & Bar, On the Border and Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants raised its full-year earnings outlook while also boosting its quarterly dividend payout by 27 percent.

Brinker now expects a 2010 profit of $1.40 to $1.44 a share excluding one-time items. It had previously forecast a range of $1.15 to $1.30. Analysts were expecting $1.39, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Check Out Line: A basket full of profits


Check out today’s earnings-palooza.

Two retailers topped analysts’ expectations after a strong holiday-season showing, while ConAgra Foods was helped by a makeover of its consumer foods segment.

USA-HOLIDAYSALES/Best Buy’s better-than-expected profit was helped by demand for devices such as notebook computers.  The company’s 12 percent revenue jump came even as Walmart and other chains stepped up their electronics push for the holidays.  Of course, this was also the first winter that they didn’t have to compete against the brick and mortar Circuit City stores.

Check Out Line: More quarterly earnings to parse


williams1Check out the latest quarterly earnings to size up.

Williams-Sonoma reported a better-than-expected profit on lower costs and strong holiday sales, and the home goods chain said it sees sales and earnings rising for the year.

The operator of the Pottery Barn, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma chains, which won many shoppers in the  holiday season by offering more lower-priced home decor items, also boosted its quarterly dividend by 8.3 percent.