Business News Archives for 2015-05

Costco Cranks Another Good Quarter

Costco quarterly profits rose to $516 million, from $473 million last year, as the company benefits from low gas prices, strong store sales and membership fees. Costco is the second-largest retailer in the U.S. behind Wal-Mart and one of the largest fuel retailers in the country. Last month, the company paid a special one-time dividend of $5 a share, or $2.2 billion. (The Street)
They are on the front lines of the big Avian Flu outbreak but that did not hold them back this quarter. Sanderson Farms, the third-largest U.S. poultry producer, reported an 8.5% rise in quarterly net sales, helped by higher demand for chicken from restaurants. Net sales rose to $716.6 million from $660.7 million. The company's profits rose to $71.2 million, from $51 million a year earlier.  (Reuters)
The satellite radio operator, Sirius XM, will have to face a class action lawsuit involving royalties for pre-1972 songs. Members of the 1960s group The Turtles had sought class action status in the case, which claims copyright infringement because no royalties are paid on those songs. (CNBC)

The I.R.S. has been Hacked

The Internal Revenue Service has admitted that identity thieves obtained prior-year tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households in a major security breach.  The agency believes fewer than 15,000 refunds were paid as a result of the breach, and the total paid out amounted to less than $50 million. (WSJ)

Restaurant IPO's seem to have stolen the show from tech so far in 2015.  Jimmy John's is preparing for an initial public offering that could value the gourmet sandwich chain at more than $2 billion.  Management is likely hoping to replicate the success of Shake Shack, which went public at $21, and closed Tuesday at $85.76. (CNBC)

The International Monetary Fund has declared that China's currency, the Yuan (or renminbi), is no longer undervalued, marking a significant shift after more than a decade of criticism of Beijing's tight currency management.  The yuan has gained 25 per cent against the US dollar since it was allowed to adjust upwards a decade ago, and has held its value even as the dollar has strengthened against other major currencies over the past year. (FT)

The dollar is showing increasing resiliency again.  The dollar strengthened to an 8 year high against the Japanese yen yesterday, and the dollar index jumped to a one-month high, and its biggest gain in almost a year.  The dollar's rise is a major contributor to falling oil prices.  (FT)

Europe Looking Better

The April Durable Goods report was up 1% when you back out defense and auto spending. The March number was revised up to a 4.7% gain. (Fox Business News)

Time Warner Cable is for sale again.  This time it is Charter Communications agreeing to buy Time Warner Cable for $195 a share in cash and stock, or $78.7 billion. Unlike in Comcast's attempt to purchase TWC, there's a $2 billion breakup fee. (CNBC)

Amazon has changed its European tax practices amid regulatory investigations by EU regulators, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company is now booking revenue from retail sales in individual European countries, instead of channeling all sales through low-tax Luxembourg.

The dollar is getting stronger again against a basket of currencies today, extending gains since a round of improved inflation data Friday and driving the euro to around $1.09 for the first time in a month. (Reuters)

Cross marketing is alive and well. Samsung launched Marvel a limited edition Iron Man Galaxy S6 Edge today, in the company's latest push to promote its curved screen smartphone. (CNBC)

Stocks in Asia are largely higher overnight, with markets in China and Japan taking the lead with new multi-year highs. (CNBC)

It Runs Like a Deere

The world's No. 2 personal computer maker, Hewlett-Packard, posted a profit of $1.01 billion.  That was down 11% from last year.  Sales across most of HP's product lines fell, dragging its total revenue down 6.8% to $25.45 billion. Its enterprise services unit, which accounts for about a fifth of total revenue, suffered the most with a 16% drop. (Reuters)

John Deere is the world's leading seller of farming equipment. Deere reported second-quarter profits today that smashed expectations. Earnings per share came in at $2.03. The company reported sales of $8.17 billion. Deere forecast that sales of construction and forestry equipment will increase 2% this year, with sales improvements in the US and Europe offsetting declines elsewhere. Deere, however, has a bleak outlook for the agricultural sector, saying it sees weak demand for tractors and other heavy machinery. (Business Insider)

The worst U.S. avian-flu outbreak ever has resulted in the deaths or extermination of at least 38.9 million birds. That's about 10% of the U.S. egg-laying flock. Egg prices are soaring as a result. Shares of the nation’s largest egg producer, Cal-Maine Foods, are up 39% in the last month. (WSJ)

Join us Saturday at 10 for Financial Focus Radio when we will tell you this week’s market events and action you should take in response.

It's Best Buy and Radio Shack

The last of the electronic super stores, Best Buy, posted a quarterly profit of $129 million. Large-screen televisions and mobile phones helped push sales to $8.56 billion. Best Buy has been cutting costs and revamping stores to improve results as it faces competition from online retailers and discount stores. (AP)

Dollar Tree reported first-quarter profits of $69.5 million. The discount retailer posted revenue of $2.18 billion in the period. Dollar Tree shares have climbed slightly more than 8% since the beginning of the year, and is up 49% in the last 12 months. (AP)

Hewlett-Packard is unveiling sweeping changes to its business in China, including selling a majority stake in its data-networking business there to Tsinghua for about $2.3 billion. HP reports earnings after-the-bell. (CNBC)

The Oregon Attorney General announced a multistate agreement to protect RadioShack customers from having their personally identifiable information sold to another company. This came on the same day a federal bankruptcy judge cleared the way for RadioShack to sell its brand name and limited customer data to Standard General in a $26.2 million deal. (Oregon Live)

Target and Lowes Report Earnings

Housing starts jumped to their highest level in nearly 7-1/2 years in April and permits soared. Starts surged 20.2% to an annual pace of 1.14 million units, the highest since November 2007. The percent increase was the biggest since February 1991. Permits for future home construction jumped 10.1% to a 1.14 million-unit rate, the highest since June 2008. Permits have been above a 1 million-unit pace since July. (Reuters)

Lowe's saw sales and profit rise in the first quarter to $673 million. Sales climbed to $14.13 billion. Same store sales rose 5.2%. Lowe's maintained its projections for earnings of about $3.29 per share for the year, with sales rising 4.5% to 5%. (AP)

The retailer Target posted first-quarter earnings of $1.10 per share, up from 70 cents a share last year. Revenue rose to $17.12 billion. Target has started a $2 billion cost-savings plan. In March, the retailer outlined plans to lay off 1,700 workers. The company last month closed the last of its 133 Canadian stores. The Company also raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour for all workers starting last month. (CNBC)

Foreign Markets Surge

A busy spring pushed Home Depot's sales at U.S. stores higher by 7.1% in the first quarter. Home Depot earned a profit $1.58 billion for the quarter. Sales climbed to $20.89 billion. Home Depot now sees 2015 earnings rising about 11% to 12%.  (AP)

Wal-Mart reported a 7% decline in first-quarter profits as worker pay raises, spending on e-commerce and currency fluctuations put pressure on the bottom line at the world's largest retailer. The company also reported a 1.1% increase for same store sales, its third consecutive quarter of increases. Wal-Marts profits were $3.34 billion on sales of $114.0 billion. (AP)

Dick's Sporting Goods reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $63.3 million. The sporting goods retailer posted revenue of $1.57 billion in the period. Dick's shares have risen 13% since the beginning of the year is up 9% in the last 12 months. (AP)

Gloomy Economic News

US consumer sentiment dropped in May. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary May reading on the index was 88.6. It was down from the previous month's reading of 95.9.  The decline in optimism about the economy was widespread among all age and income groups across the country. (CNBC)

U.S. industrial production fell for a fifth straight month in April, weighed down by declines in mining and utilities output. Industrial output slipped 0.3% after a revised 0.3% in March. Mining production fell 0.8% as oil and gas well drilling plunged 14.5%. It was the fourth straight monthly decline in mining output. Utilities production tumbled 1.3%, likely as warmer weather reduced demand for heating. (Reuters)

Economists cut their forecasts for U.S. economic growth in the second quarter and full year. Third-quarter 2015 growth is forecast at 3.1%, up from an estimate of 2.8% February's survey. The pace of hiring was expected to decelerate, with an average rate of monthly nonfarm job growth seen around 195,300. (Reuters)

Portland’s Precision Castparts reported quarterly profits of $135 million. The maker of components including industrial gas turbines and commercial airplane parts posted revenue of $2.5 billion. Precision Castparts shares have decreased 14% since the beginning of the year. The stock has fallen 19% in the last 12 months. (AP)

Rising Interest Rates

Nordstrom, the largest U.S. luxury department-store chain, saw first-quarter sales rise 9.7% to $3.22 billion. Profits fell 8.6% to $128 million, but  the company reaffirmed its 2015 forecast. Nordstrom is using the company’s chain of outlets to attract more price-conscious shoppers, and they are plowing money into e-commerce. Nordstrom operates an online men’s clothing service called Trunk Club and the flash-sale site HauteLook. It also has invested in the Internet retailer Bonobos. (Bloomberg)

Jack In The Box reported a quarterly profit of $23 million.  The burger chain had sales of $358.1 million in the period. Jack In The Box shares have increased 15% year to date and 66% in the last 12 months. (AP)

In an unprecedented move, the parent companies or main banking units of JPMorgan , Citigroup , Royal Bank of Scotland , Barclays , and UBS are likely to plead guilty to rigging foreign exchange rates to benefit their transactions. (Reuters)

McDonald's turns 75 years old today. McDonald's Bar-B-Q restaurant, the precursor to the fast-food giant known today, opened in California on May 15, 1940. (USA Today)

Join us Saturday for Financial Focus radio when we will share our tips for not getting terminated by rising interest rates.

Deflation at the Manufacturing Level

Inflation at the manufacturing level declined 0.4%. That was more than expected and shows no inflation across the board. (Fox Business News)

Retail sales were flat in April as households cut back on purchases of automobiles and other big-ticket items. March's retail sales were revised higher to show a 1.1% increase. Retail sales have trended weaker despite households getting a massive windfall from lower gasoline prices. Consumers appear to have saved much of the money from the cheaper gasoline. (Reuters)

Are they like Lazarus being raised from the dead?  For the first quarter J.C. Penney reported an increase of 3.4% in sales posting a loss of $75 million from operations, but that was a 70% improvement over last year. Gross margins improved 3.3%. They are still losing money but moving in the right direction. (Forbes)   

Department store operator Kohl's Q1 sales were hurt by colder-than-usual weather in February, but still jumped 1.4%. The company's profits rose to $127 million from $125 million a year earlier. Net sales rose 1.3% to $4.12 billion. (Reuters)

The S&P 500 is up 13 and the NASDAQ is up 33. MSCI International Index is up 0.80%.

Oil is down 31 cents at $60.37 a barrel. Oil inventories fell 2.2 million barrels last week to below 485 million barrels. Gasoline and distillate stockpiles also declined. Inventories are still about 20% higher than a year ago. (Reuters)

Oil Continues to Pump Higher

Can’t believe I missed it yesterday but Yankee great Yogi Berra turned 90.  My favorite Yogi quote speaks to our wealth building efforts. “If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

Posting its best growth in almost two years, euro zone first quarter GDP rose 0.4% beating the U.S. expansion rate of 0.2%. (CNBC)

Nine of 10 components in National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index report increased or remained unchanged in April after all ten fell in March. The index rose 1.7 points from March to 96.9.  Small business owners are still wary of the future. Capital spending plans rose 2 points and reports of actual capital outlay are up rising to an expansion high level of 60%.  Plans to increase inventories gained 3 points.  (NFIB)

Dean Foods began 2015 on an improved note posting a profits gain of 24 cents a share vs a loss last year. Results were driven by improvement in the commodity market and lower raw milk costs. However net sales descended 12.4% and volumes declined 3%.  (Zacks)

Macy's delivered quarterly results that fell short of expectations and the retailer raised its share buyback program by $1.5 billion. The retail giant posted profits of 56 cents per share, down from 60 cents a year-earlier. Revenue fell to $6.23 billion from $6.28 billion a year ago. (CNBC)

Interest Rates Spike

This is what happens when interest rates spike suddenly.   Stocks are sharply lower as European stocks are plunging on the surge in bond yields and concerns about Greece. Debt talks between Greece and its lenders appear to be making slow, but sure, progress as Athens made a multimillion-euro loan repayment to one of its lenders a day early.  (CNBC)

You only thought they were extinct. Telecom giant Verizon is buying AOL for $50 per share, or about $4.4 billion. AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong will continue to run AOL operations once the deal is finalized. (CNBC)

The weak sisters are starting to get washed out of the oil industry. Morgan Stanley is selling its oil storage and transport business to commodities trading company Castleton. The deal is valued by experts in the field at slightly more than $1 billion. (Reuters)

As part of their turnaround plans,  McDonald's plans to expand its all-day breakfast test. In addition the fast-food chain will also simplify drive-thru menus, add mid-price sandwiches, and sell lemonade this summer. (CNBC)

Greece Back in Headlines

International happenings could be market movers today.  Greek government official say they will make a major debt payment tomorrow, but there are doubts Greece will be able to honor future obligations.  (CNBC)

China cut interest rates for the third time in six months as stimulus in responding to weaker-than-expected economic activity that could put the government's "around 7%" growth target at risk. (CNBC)

Dish Network saw revenue rise 3.6% in its latest quarter, even though overall subscriber numbers dropped. Dish now makes an average $86.01 per subscriber compared to $82.36 a year ago. (Reuters)

Manufacturing is coming back to the US. Volvo will build a $500 million plant in South Carolina that will eventually employ up to 4,000 people. South Carolina and Georgia had been the two finalists. (AP)

Just five U.S. companies-Apple, Microsoft, Google, Pfizer, and Cisco-are holding nearly half a trillion dollars in cash, as the country's tax code deters businesses from spending their overseas hordes. (FT)

Stop Yellen at me!

US Stocks sold off yesterday after the Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen spooked investors by warning that stock values are quite high, which is unusual for a sitting head of the Fed.

The payroll processing company ADP came out with their report which showed the private sector added 169,000 jobs in April which was well below forecasts.  The slowing pace of job gains in the US may prompt Federal Reserve officials to delay raising interest rates longer than anyone expects.

US Productivity in the 1st quarter fell by 1.9% resulting in the first back to back drop since 2006.  The decline in productivity stemmed from companies hiring more workers and those workers working more hours.

Shares of Alibaba are 7.6% higher after the company reported earnings that top wall st. estimates.  The Chinese e-commerce giant beat profit and revenue estimates in their fiscal 4th quarter.  The company also announced their Chief Operating Officer will become their CEO on May 10th.

Shares of Tesla Motors are lower this morning after the company reported earnings that was actually better than expected.  The stock is lower because the company is burning through cash at an alarming rate.  At their current cash burn rate the company could survive 3 more quarters before they ran out of cash.

The organic supermarket chain Wholefoods saw their stock fall 10% after the company reported disappointing 2nd quarter sales.  Wholefoods also announced they will begin opening smaller stores targeted at millennial shoppers.

Biggest Trade Deficit in Years

The US recorded its biggest monthly trade deficit since the 2008 global financial crisis last month, fuelling concerns that the economy contracted in the first three months of the year. The goods and services deficit rose to $51.4bn in March ($37.8bn of which came from China), up 41 per cent from the $35.9bn recorded in February. Exports rose less than 1 per cent while imports grew 7.7 per cent on the back of increased consumer demand for cars and mobile phones.

Vanguard has now officially taken the title as manager of the world's largest bond fund.  The sudden exit of Bill Gross last September cost the Pimco Total Return Fund its title as the world's largest, after another month of withdrawals in April.  The fund's assets slipped to $110.4bn at the end of last month, compared to $117.3bn in the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund.  

One in 10 American consumers has no credit history, according to a study released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The research found that about 26 million American adults have no histories with national credit reporting agencies.  In addition to those so-called credit invisibles, an additional 19 million have credit reports that are so limited or out of date that they are unscorable.

U.S. airlines are earning billions, and they are collecting more in fees on checked bags and reservation changes.  According to the Department of Transportation, airlines collected $3.5 billion in bag fees last year, a 5 percent increase over 2013, and $3 billion in reservation-change fees, a 6 percent hike.  Low cost airlines, such as Spirit, which tout low fares and adds lots of fees, derive only about 60 percent of revenue from the face value of ticket prices. Southwest gets the highest proportion of revenue from ticket sales; 95 percent of the company's revenue comes from the ticket price.

Oil cracks $60/Barrel

Under the heading the world is not ending with earnings season. Driven by strong energy and healthcare results, S&P 500 profits are now tracking to a 2% year-over-year increase, about 5% above expectations. Revenue is still tracking to a 2.6% year-over-year decline. After this week, when 90 S&P 500 companies report, 90% will have reported Q1 2015 results. (Thomson Reuters)

The Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney, delivered quarterly earnings and revenue that topped expectations. The entertainment giant posted fiscal second quarter earnings of $1.23 per share, up from $1.11 a share in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose to $12.46 billion from $11.65 billion a year ago. Disney's stock has risen 17.8% year to date. (CNBC)

Consumer confidence increased in April to the second-highest level in more than eight years as Americans grew more upbeat about their financial prospects. A stronger sense of job security and building momentum in wage growth are helping to buoy confidence. (Bloomberg)

As drug prices continue to fall under ever-increasing scrutiny, spending on cancer medicines has hit a new milestone: $100 billion in 2014. That's up more than 10% from 2013. (CNBC)

Oil is up $1.04 at $60.00 a barrel. With speculation rife over how long Saudi Arabia is content to see oil prices slump, the country's oil minister told CNBC that "only Allah" knows where prices are heading.

McDonalds rolls out a turn-around plan today

Berkshire Hathaway, owners of Dairy Queen, Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear, railroads and many other businesses posted first-quarter profits up 9.8% as lower fuel prices helped the railroad business, and investment income improved with the companies wager on Burger King. Net income rose to $5.16 billion. (Bloomberg)


Comcast posted total profits up 2.6% to $17.9 billion in the quarter. Comcast will now earmark $6.75 billion for its stock buyback 2015. The company added video customers last quarter, but lost 8,000 subscribers  compared to the 24,000 additions last year. (CNBC)


McDonald's is set to unveil a turnaround plan today, as the restaurant chain seeks to revive sales. Executives said the menu had gotten too complicated and the company had failed to keep up with changing tastes. (CNBC)


The new symbol of America: small SUVs and compact crossover utility vehicles are now the most popular new vehicles in the U.S.. In the first three months this year, 15.6% of the light vehicles sold in the U.S. were compact utility vehicles, surpassing compact cars which made up 15.1% of all sales. (TrueCar)

Sell in May and Go Away???

Today is May Day and we are not going away.  Tomorrow is the Wood Stock of capitalism, the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha Nebraska.

With a big sell off yesterday we ended the month of April with the S&P 500 and NASDAQ flat.  The international index was up 3.65%. (Bloomberg)

Payment processing giant Visa says it earned $1.55 billion, down 3% from the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose almost 8% to $3.41 billion. Like other global companies, Visa's results were impacted by the strong U.S. dollar. Visa said the dollar reduced revenue growth by 2.5%. Visa executives, said lower gas prices trimmed 3% points off U.S. payment growth. (AP)

A federal judge granted much of the U.S. Justice Department's demands for an antitrust injunction against American Express in a lawsuit over steering rules for merchants. The judge ruled the company violated antitrust law by barring merchants from steering consumers to lower-cost credit cards. (CNBC)

Join us Saturday at 10 for Financial Focus – your Smart Money Radio.


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