Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: A smorgasbord of consumer earnings to parse

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tide1Check out the smorgasbord of quarterly earnings in the consumer sector.

Among the many companies to report earnings on Thursday were P&G, Burger King, OfficeMax, Colgate,  Fortune Brands, Bunge, Kellogg, Safeway and Mead Johnson. As usual, there was something for investors of all stripes.

P&G, for example, posted a better-than-expected profit, helped by its biggest volume gain in more than four years. That would please the optimists.

The pessimists, however, had their news to focus on as the world’s largest household products company, known for its Tide detergent (pictured), also forecast results for the current quarter below Wall Street’s expectations. Go figure.

Burger King reported a smaller profit, blaming severe winter storms during the period for weaker sales in North America, and the CEO said warned that high levels of unemployment and underemployment remained the biggest headwind.

Check Out Line: Staying home hits sales both ways

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Check out the impact of staying at home. 
 
kellogg-cerealDining in and watching movies from the comfort of your couch may help sales trends for food makers, but it hurts some other companies in the consumer space.

Kellogg on Thursday posted a higher quarterly profit as consumers ate more meals at home.
 
TRESemme, Nexxus and Alberto VO5 maker Alberto Culver felt the opposite impact in its results earlier this week, as sales missed analysts’ expectations.

Check Out Line: Hand sanitizers popular in swine flu scare

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flu1Check out the uptick in business at U.S. and Canadian drug store chains amid the swine flu scare.

Hand sanitizers, antibacterial soap, face masks and gloves are flying off the shelves of drug stores due to fear of swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, but executives said it is too early to judge the impact in other retail sectors.

Check Out Line: Company profits surprise despite weak sales

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Check out consumer-related companies Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, OfficeMax, Domino’s Pizza and Sally Beauty Holdings all posting better-than-expected quarterly profits despite weak consumer demand.

USA/P&G and Colgate surprised Wall Street on Thursday, as their efforts to hike prices and cut costs helped offset weaker demand in the recession.  Both companies, which are rolling out new products to entice thrifty consumers back to stores, forecast sales growth for the year, excluding the impact of currency fluctuations, acquisitions and divestitures.

Just how wonderful is your brand?

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USA/Just how “wonderful” consumers think your brand is can help your stock price, especially in a recession, according to a study by market research agencies Kadence, Brand Care and So What Research.

The study looked at consumer perceptions of 650 leading U.S. brands and found there is a link between the affection consumers hold for a brand — or the “wonderfulness” of the brand – and its stock performance.  

Check Out Line-Retail sector racks up more bad news

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Check out the not-so-chipper news in the retail world.

bk1Restaurant chain Burger King reported lower profits and cut its full-year forecast due to the currency fluctuations, while cosmetics and perfume companies Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden rang up lower, albeit better-than-expected, profits and said they would cut jobs.

Indeed, retailers overall posted the second weakest monthly same-store sales performance since Thomson Reuters began tracking the data in 2000 as heavy job losses, weakness in the U.S. housing sector and the still-tight credit markets have many consumers closing their wallets.

Check Out Line: Yummy profits for food companies

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Check Out the joy at Kraft and Kellogg.

Both Kraft, the largest North American food maker and Kellogg, the world’s largest cereal company, posted third-quarter profits that topped Wall Street’s expectations thanks to price increases and new items. The results are yet another nod to the fact that while you may shun clothes, jewelry or furniture during crunch times, you still gotta eat.

But Chief Executive Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft, with brands from its namesake cheese and Maxwell House coffee to Oreo cookies and Toblerone chocolates, warned that tight credit conditions could cause some retailers to liquidate their inventories, which could affect product shipments in the fourth quarter.

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