Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: April showers bring strong earnings


coke1Check out the latest wave of strong quarterly earnings from the consumer world.

Under Armour, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Estee Lauder, Ford Motor, Energizer Holdings and Group 1 Automotive were among the consumer-focused companies reporting stronger-than-expected profits, supporting the view that a corner has been turned in the economy.

Athletic clothing and shoe maker Under Armour posted higher-than-expected quarterly profit fueled by strong apparel and online sales, and raised its earnings outlook for the full year. The largest bottler of Coke beverages, Coca-Cola Enterprises, with growth in European markets, did the same.

Estee Lauder, the maker of Clinique, M.A.C. and other cosmetics, saw its profit more than double as women treated themselves to small luxuries such as new skin creams. It also raised its full-year outlook.

Ford posted a big profit as North American sales picked up and raised its 2010 outlook to “solidly profitable.”  The U.S. automaker cited market share and pricing gains and also raised its second-quarter North American production plan.

Auto show-Dealer CEOs share their thoughts on industry


Executives from two top U.S. automobile dealers sat down with Reuters’ Detroit bureau chief Kevin Krolicki and correspondent James Kelleher at the Detroit auto show and dished on the industry. Some thoughts on various automakers  and the sector follow:

Earl Hesterberg, Group 1 Automotive CEO

Regarding GM and CEO Ed Whitacre:

“I am happy to see some sense of urgency and aggressiveness. We have not had nearly enough sales activity in our GM dealerships for the last year and we’ve been waiting for them to get aggressive and try to get back in the market and get it growing. … (Whitacre) seems to have that same urgency to step up their volumes.” 

Auto show-Ford chairman channels philosopher


Billford1Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr channeled philosopher and poet George Santayana in emphasizing that the U.S. automaker would not repeat past mistakes.

Ford was the only U.S. automaker not to reorganize last year under a government-sponsored bankruptcy, but still has lost billions of dollars over the past several years and been criticized for losing focus of its core automotive business. Ford is in a multiyear turnaround effort that includes a renewed emphasis on cars to meet expectations that fuel prices will continue to rise.

Auto show-Driven a Ford lately? Award judges did


ford1Ford must be doing something right.

First, it was the only U.S. automaker not to file for bankruptcy last year. And now Ford has swept the 2010 North American Car and Truck Awards at the North American International Auto Show.

A panel of about 50 U.S. and Canadian journalists named the Ford Fusion Hybrid car of the year and the Ford Transit Connect the truck of the year.