Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

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.

Meanwhile, Signet — the owner of the Kay Jewelers and Jared chains — won some market share in the United States.  Its profit came in 10 cents per share higher than analysts had anticipated.

Besides ConAgra, McCormick & Co also posted quarterly results in the food aisle.  While the latest quarter came in ahead of expectations, the spice maker’s forecast signals that the current fiscal second quarter will be a weak one.

Signet shines up listing for US investors


diamond-ring.jpgSoon, Signet will move its primary stock exchange listing to the New York Stock Exchange and may attract more investors to an already strong base. Signet who, you ask? They are known best as the operators of the Kay Jewelers chain and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry stores in the United States.

For Signet, sales trends in the United States are a bit different from those in the United Kingdom, according to the company. Predictably, U.S. sales peak around the year-end holidays, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, though British shoppers are not keen jewelry buyers for the latter two holidays . Also, U.S. consumers are more into buying anniversary jewelry and upgrading engagement rings throughout the year. In the UK? Not so much.