Unstructured Finance

Check Out Line: Food companies serve up tasty results

hershey1Check out the better-than-expected results being served up by food companies.

Chocolate maker Hershey posted a quarterly profit above analysts’ expectations, said it was on target to meet its 2010 earnings forecast and boosted its dividend. The company also said it would boost advertising to try to sell more candy, including Almond Joy and York peppermint patties.

Meanwhile, Archer Daniels Midland, one of the largest processors of corn and soybeans, saw its profit slip 2 percent, but the results still topped analysts’ forecasts, and Pepsi Bottling also topped Wall Street’s view as productivity improvements offset a dip in sales. Fruit and vegetable producer Dole Food reported a higher fourth-quarter profit and paid down debt.

Outside the food and beverages sector, Whirlpool’s profit more than doubled on cost cuts and improving sales and the world’s biggest appliance maker offered a stronger-than-expected 2010 forecast. Women’s clothing retailer Ann Taylor said its fourth quarter earnings would top expectations.

Job Bank – Nov. 21

The following financial services industry appointments were announced on Nov. 21, linked where possible to personal profiles on LinkedIn. To inform us of other job changes, please e-mail moves@thomsonreuters.com.

UBS AG

Ramesh Singh, the head of UBS AG’s asset-backed securities division has decided to step down, UBS CEO Jerker Johansson said in an internal memo. The asset-backed securities business at the Swiss banking giant will be reduced in scope. Replacing Singh, will be a group co-led by Bill Chandler, Jack McCleary and Jim Reichek.

OPPENHEIMER FUNDS, INC.

William F. Glavin, Jr. has been appointed chief executive officer of Oppenheimer Funds Inc. effective Jan. 1, 2009. He will replace John V. Murphy, currently chairman and CEO. Murphy will remain with the company and continue to serve as President and a director/trustee of each of the Oppenheimer funds until his retirement at year-end 2009. Glavin has served as Co-CEO of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (Mass Mutual), of which Oppenheimer Funds, Inc is a subsidiary, and Executive Vice- President and head of Mass Mutual’s U.S. Insurance Group.

Cloaked in transparency

harry-potter.jpgSovereign wealth funds meet this week to uncloak any political motivations that might lurk behind their rich capital infusions. The talks are focused on devising a code of ethics to allay Western fears and could help create transparency. Alas, most of substance is being debated behind closed doors. It is being held in Singapore, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that transparency is not a particularly high priority. The funds, controlling an estimated $3 trillion in assets, are owned by national governments and often armed with cash piles from soaring oil prices and trade. They have sunk billions into Citigroup and UBS, which were reeling from the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market. Goldman Sachs estimates U.S. and European banks may need a further capital infusion of more than $200 billion.

It’s a good thing for Anheuser-Busch that Bud Light is so popular. If Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev manages to take over the company, it will probably put it on a serious diet as it aims to trim up to $1.4 billion of costs. Employees and union officials at InBev describe the tightest of budget controls: mobile phones taken back and returned only to employees who justified a need for one; new pens given out only in return for used ones; and an elevator at the global headquarters closed for several months. The elevator is back in use now, although signs in the lobby read: “Why not take the stairs?” InBev says many such measures, and notably larger water and energy conservation efforts, also serve sustainability targets and that its cost-saving push is simply one pillar of an overall strategy also focused on boosting beer volumes.

Shares in British retailer Marks & Spencer are up on market talk of possible bid interest in the retailer. Rival department stores owner Philip Green, who was linked with a stakebuild in M&S in January, was again mentioned as a possible suitor, traders said, but some attributed the bounce to expectations for upbeat news from an upcoming M&S annual general meeting. Boss Stuart Rose, lauded for reviving the landmark British retailer just a year ago, is battling to save his job after a big profit warning and bungled management changes.

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