Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: April showers bring strong earnings

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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.

U.S. in Recession since Dec. ’07

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The National Bureau of Economic Research, a prestigious private institute that decides when the United States is in recession, says we’ve been in one since December last year.

The call from the NBER came as news to almost nobody in the United States, where unemployment is climbing, available credit is shrinking, consumer spending and confidence are lagging and home prices are falling off a cliff after a huge rise that enabled homeowners to use their property as a cash machine.

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