Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Chavez puts a damper on U.S. earnings season


CHAVEZVenezuela President Hugo Chavez has rained on the U.S. consumer goods parade.

His government’s decision this month to devalue the Venezuela bolivar promises to hurt the profits of many leading U.S. consumer products makers this year even as they seem to be turning a corner.

On Friday, Newell Rubbermaid said the devaluation – which basically creates a two-tiered system that sells U.S. dollars for 4.3 bolivars in one market, and a separate parallel market where the greenback is going for about 6 bolivars- would shave 4-5 cents per share off of its 2010 earnings, sending its shares down.

The news follows Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble also saying on Thursday that Hugo’s tinkering with exchange rates would hit their 2010 profits, putting a little damper on the news that both companies had done better than expected last quarter.

More bad news may be on the way as we make our way through earnings season: companies exposed to Venezuela could feel an average earnings hit of about 2 percent from translating business from that country into U.S. dollars, Bill Pecoriello of Consumer Edge Research warned us earlier this month.

Check Out Line: The slow return of the splurge


Check out signs that consumers are getting more comfortable with spending and, at times, even splurging.

Estee Lauder reported a far better-than-expected 62 percent jump in quarterly profit and boosted its full-year forecast as consumers began to splurge on cosmetics after a year-long slide in sales. Results were helped by strong growth in Asia, new products, and a better-than-expected performance in airport stores and in the United States.

From Charmin, $10,000 to meet people in Times Square toilets


Want to earn $10,000 working in Times Square this holiday season?  No, no.  Not that way! Rudy BATHROOM NEW YORKGiuliani cleaned all that up.
P&G’s Charmin toilet paper has a different job for you.  The company is looking for five “Charmin Ambassadors” to work in its portable rest rooms in Times Square this holiday season.
The people must be “super-fun” and “enthusiastic.”
The job description: “Greet and entertain bathroom guests.  Then blog about the experience.  All candidates must really, really enjoy going to the bathroom.” 
Except for the blogging part, I think my 15-month-old would be perfect for the job.

(Reuters photo)

Check Out Line: P&G shows its sustainable side


Check out Procter & Gamble’s environmental and social efforts.

P&G was added to the Global 100 list of the world’s most sustainable corporations in 2009.  On Monday, the household products powerhouse released its latest sustainability report, “Designed to Matter.” 

The report comes seven months after P&G raised its 2012 sustainability goals.
P&G said that since 2002 it has cut water consumption by 52 percent, energy usage by 48 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 52 percent and waste disposal by 53 percent in its operations.

Check Out Line: Will P&G get a “bounce” from outside?


Check out Procter & Gamble’s latest collaboration, which isn’t getting all rave reviews.  P&G has been working with others for nearly a decade under a program it calls Connect + Develop.  Now it is looking for its next success.

Quite a few products have come together with help from the outside.  A few years ago, for example, a P&G employee heard a scientist from Sederma speak at an academic conference.  P&G used the French company’s peptide technology in its Olay Regenerist skin care line.