Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Snow’s impact in the eye of beholder


snow1Check out the the bad and the good of the severe weather last month.

In the bad camp are restaurant chains Ruby Tuesday and Burger King, which both blamed the bad weather for keeping diners away.

Squarely in the good camp was sporting goods retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, which posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on strong demand for cold weather gear.

Last week, U.S. retailers posted their best monthly sales performance in February since just before the recession started in 2007 as fewer discounts helped them weather record-setting snow.

Also in the basket:

Kroger profit shrinks, but beats Wall Street

Duane Reade quarterly net loss widens

Jones Soda agrees to be bought by Reeds

Retail Stocks Reach New Highs (WWD, subscription required)

(Reuters photo: Employees of a New York restaurant shovel snow in February)

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.

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: Food companies serve up tasty results


hershey1Check out the better-than-expected results being served up by food companies.

Chocolate maker Hershey posted a quarterly profit above analysts’ expectations, said it was on target to meet its 2010 earnings forecast and boosted its dividend. The company also said it would boost advertising to try to sell more candy, including Almond Joy and York peppermint patties.

Meanwhile, Archer Daniels Midland, one of the largest processors of corn and soybeans, saw its profit slip 2 percent, but the results still topped analysts’ forecasts, and Pepsi Bottling also topped Wall Street’s view as productivity improvements offset a dip in sales. Fruit and vegetable producer Dole Food reported a higher fourth-quarter profit and paid down debt.

Check Out Line: Food makers ring up results


Check out the latest better-than-expected earnings, this time from Campbell Soup and Tyson Foods.

It looks like food investors may have plenty to be thankful for when they sit down to their Thanksgiving tables later this week.

Chico’s sexes it up a little


phelpsWho says people have to dress frumpy or dowdy in a recession?

Apparently not Chico’s FAS.  The mature women’s chain, which operates Chico’s, White House/Black Market and Soma Intimates chains, has made major strides in making its merchandise more fashionable in the past year, and has been rewarded with stellar results in the third quarter and shares that are up eightfold in the last year.

The move towards trendier– dare we say, sexier – clothes helped sales this autumn  rise 13.3 percent and allowed the chain to win market share while rivals such as Talbots and Clearwater Coldwater Creek continued to struggle. (A year and a half ago, U.S. gold medalist Michael Phelps’ mother Debbie boasted that her Olympics’ wardrobe at the Beijing Games came from Chico’s.)

Check Out Line: Macy’s starts retail earnings parade


Check out Macy’s disappointing fourth-quarter forecast. USA/

Apparently, the Thanksgiving Day Parade may be the highlight of the quarter.

The department store chain operator forecast fourth-quarter profit below analysts estimates and its shares fell Wednesday morning.

The retailer also expects same-store sales to drop 1 percent to 2 percent in the quarter.  While that is less of a decline than the full year, it is also off a pretty easy comparison.  Same-store sales fell 7 percent in the year-earlier fourth quarter, when the country was waist deep in a recession and credit crunch.

Check Out Line: Which way is up with the U.S. economy?


Check out the mixed messages about the U.S. economy from the various consumer earnings.

Like any other earning day nowadays, it’s pick your poison on whether you want to focus on the good news or the bad news when it comes to whether the economy is improving.

Check Out Line: Define “significantly”


fabrizio-fredaCheck out Estee Lauder’s profit coming in well ahead of raised expectations.

Sure, we should have expected that.  After all, the cosmetics maker said two weeks ago that its fiscal first-quarter profit would be “significantly higher than previous guidance” due to a variety of factors.