Business News Archives for 2015-07

Oil Keeps Downward Pressure on Profits

A volatile month on Wall Street comes to an end today, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq poised to post a winning week for the second time in three weeks and a positive July. (CNBC)

Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported a 52% slide in second-quarter profit as tumbling crude oil prices weighed on results. Profit in the quarter was $4.2 billion compared with $8.8 billion last year. Oil and gas output rose 3.6% to 4 million barrels per day. (Reuters)

This could be the genesis of the next worry for retail investors. Facing a deadline tomorrow, Puerto Rico may miss a debt payment-starting what could end up becoming one of the largest municipal restructurings, with the potential to spark volatility in bond prices. (Reuters)

American Express has been accused in a lawsuit of blindsiding investors with the loss of a crucial contract with Costco, after allegedly having failed to reveal how significant that business had become. (Reuters)

It’s part of our expanding palate. Four new Lay's potato chip flavors go on sale Monday. They include Greektown Gyro, New York Reuben, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, and Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries.  The chips were part of Lay's "Do Us A Flavor" contest.

Stay inside Saturday morning from 10 to noon and catch a cool new edition of Financial Focus Radio.

The Downside to Cheaper Oil

It's the heaviest day of the busiest week for corporate earnings season for the second quarter. 

Whole Foods is feeling pinched after officials found it was overcharging customers. The grocery chain known for its organic offerings saw sales growth slowing sharply at established locations.  To extend its reach, the company plans to open a new chain of "365" stores that focus on lower prices in a smaller format. Leases have been signed for locations in Bellevue, Washington and Portland, Oregon. For the quarter the company earned $154 million. Total revenue was $3.63 billion. (AP)

Procter & Gamble's sales fell for the sixth straight quarter, as the world's bigger consumer goods company was weighed down by softer sales volume and unfavorable currency exchange rates. The maker of Tide, Pampers and Charmin said higher pricing helped offset a decline in shipment volume in the period. That kept sales flat after stripping out the impact of currency exchange rates. For the quarter the company earned $521 million. Total revenue fell 9% percent to $17.79 billion. (AP)

The downside to cheaper oil! Royal Dutch Shell warned that lower crude prices could continue for several years, as the oil giant announced lower earnings, plans to pull back on capital spending, and 6,500 job cuts. (CNBC)

All Eyes on the Fed

The Federal Open Market Committee ends its two-day meeting this afternoon, and is expected to release a statement largely devoid of clues to when we'll see the first interest rate increase in nine years.  Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen insists every remaining meeting of policymakers this year is a 'live' one in which policymakers could raise interest rates.  In theory, that extends to this week's gathering - though most observers are discounting that possibility - nonetheless, the statement will be closely analyzed for clues on future rate increases. (CNBC)

The homeownership rate continued to decline in the second quarter of 2015, hitting a 48-year low.  The seasonally adjusted homeownership rate declined to 63.5%, down from 64.7% in the second quarter of last year, according to estimates published by the Commerce Department.  While that is a good sign for the rental market, overall, economists said that a lack of home buyers is likely a bad sign that incomes aren't keeping pace with rising home prices, keeping young buyers out of the housing market. (WSJ)

Emerging market currencies are feeling the pain as markets reprice in anticipation of US interest rate increases.  The possible fed rate rise, dollar strengthening, and lower commodity prices have led EM currencies lower across the board.  Currencies are typically a highly sensitive market, and are a great barometer of investor sentiment.  Capital flows into developed economies are accelerating.  (FT)

Dow under pressure

Questionable index or not - the Dow closed yesterday near its 6 month low, as stocks continue to feel the pressure from the Chinese market sell-off, and a continued decline in commodities. The energy sector continues to be the worst performer, and global macroeconomic growth concerns continue to weigh on investors.  The good news: global stock markets steadied today, and 75% of S&P 500 companies beat earnings estimates last week. (CNBC)

Businesses are slowly starting to accelerate their spending, boosting orders for long-lasting manufactured goods and indicating they may be shaking off the rough start to the year.  New orders for durable goods-which encapsulate a diverse range of products ranging from toaster ovens to aircraft carriers (all those designed to last at least three years) rose a seasonally adjusted 3.4% in June, the first rise since March.  One more piece of positive data for the Fed to digest this week.  (WSJ)

General Motors is poised to spend $5bn on development of a new family of vehicles to push into emerging markets, deepening its partnership with China's SAIC Motor.  The cars will be under the Chevrolet brand, and will be manufactured in China, Brazil, India, and Mexico.  GM estimates that almost 90% of the growth in worldwide passenger car sales in the next 15 years is expected to come from emerging markets.  (FT)  Rival Ford reported EPS of $.47 / share this morning on quarterly revenue of $37bn, handily beating estimates.

The Big 6

It's an eventful week in the markets, with all eyes on the Fed - which will be discussing the path to normalizing interest rates during the FOMC's two-day meeting.  Second quarter GDP numbers are expected Thursday, so the market will be looking to glean information about the Fed's intentions from the numbers.  A strengthening economy and gathering momentum in the property market are bolstering arguments for higher interest rates to come.  (CNBC)

The commodity sell-off continues.  Copper has slid to a new six-year low, joining gold in a steady trend downward.  Concerns about weaker growth in China have fueled a sell-off.  Crude continues to trade marginally weaker, and the bearish sentiment has even extended to agricultural commodities, where better than expected forecasts for this year's harvest have pressured prices (FT).

Federal regulators have imposed record penalties on Fiat-Chrysler, slapping the company with a $105m fine for recall lapses covering millions of vehicles.  In some cases, the automaker agreed to repurchase recalled automobiles as part of the deal.  (WSJ)

Six firms- Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, and Gilead Sciences now account for more than half of the $664 billion in value added this year to the Nasdaq.  The situation is similar for the S&P 500: Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Gilead and Walt Disney Co. account for more than half of all of the $199 billion in market-capitalization gains. (WSJ)

S&P 500 futures are down 12 and NASDAQ futures are down 34.  The MSCI international index is down .26%.  Chinese stocks plunged 8.5% (the sharpest percentage fall in 8 years, and the biggest one-day fall on record) as frenzied sellers worry that authorities are pulling back on measures to prop up the market.

Amazon posted a profit...again!

Amazon posted another surprise profit yesterday ($92m on sales of over $23bn), and investors have been piling into shares since.  Shares climbed 17% after hours yesterday, and Amazon's market cap has now eclipsed Wal-Mart, as the company's value now exceeds $264bn.  Amazon has now posted a quarterly profit in 8 of the last 14 quarters. (WSJ)

Well if you've ever wanted to own a Ferrari - now's your chance - to buy shares in the company at least.  Ferrari filed a preliminary prospectus with the SEC yesterday, and plans to IPO with a value of over $10bn.  Ferrari shipped over 7k cars last year, and 60% of buyers are existing customers.  (WSJ)

Starbucks reported quarterly earnings and revenue that beat analyst's expectations yesterday, posting $.41 a share on $4.86bn in revenue.  The company expects full-year revenue growth of over 16%.  American same-store sales growth reached an impressive 8%.  (CNBC)

The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level in more than 41 1/2 years, suggesting job growth remained solid despite slowing in June.  Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 255,000.  2.2 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits.  (CNBC)

A Bruised Apple

The S&P 500 was lower yesterday, as a bruising session for Apple set the tone on Wall Street.  But, with about 100 companies in the index reporting so far - results have actually been pretty good - 73% of companies have beat earnings estimates.  Top-line numbers are more of a mixed bag, with only about 55% of companies beating on revenue.  (FT)

Navient, the largest student loan servicing company in the US (spun off from Sallie Mae last year) reported a 40% drop in profits, giving a glimpse into worsening trends in the $1.2tn student loan market.  The student loan market is the largest source of consumer debt (behind mortgages), and 92% of the loans are underwritten by the US government.  Just over 11% of student loan payments are currently delinquent.  (FT)

Anthem is now imminently poised to buy Cigna, in a $48bn tie-up that will shrink the five largest US health insurers to just three.  The deal comes as health insurers continue to seek cost efficiency and scale as the healthcare landscape changes due to the Affordable Care Act.  The combined companies will have a projected revenue of $115bn this year.  (WSJ)
Diesel car and truck owners rejoice.  The world is awash in diesel, and prices have reached near parity with gasoline.  A gallon of diesel is now going for a nationwide average of $2.79, vs $2.75 for unleaded.  Look for prices to keep declining: sagging diesel prices suggest the world's glut of crude oil is now becoming a glut of refined products.  (WSJ)

In the Thick of Earnings Season

Well, we're in the thick of earnings season, and Apple, the biggest company in the world by market capitalization, failed to meet high investor expectations in its latest quarterly resorts yesterday.  Wall Street wiped as much as $66bn from Apple's value following the report.  The company sold 47.5 million Iphones last quarter, while revenues in China doubled.  Apple didn't disclose sales figures for the newly released Apple Watch, but indicated that sales are outpacing internal projections. (WSJ)

News was bad over at Microsoft, as the Seattle-based company tumbled to a $3.2bn net loss last quarter, the worst in its history.  The results were weighed down by a strong dollar, and a multi-billion dollar write-off related to assets acquired from Nokia.  Microsoft is in the midst of an identity change, and recently announced the layoff of 7800 workers.  (FT)

Boeing beat analyst estimates this morning, with sales rising 11% year on year.  Boeing's results have been buoyed by strong commercial-jet demand.  The company reported a profit of $1.1bn, and an order backlog that totals $431bn.  (WSJ)

Regulators are poised to clear AT&T's $49bn acquisition of DirecTV in a major victory for the companies amid government scrutiny and skepticism over telecoms mergers.  The combination will be the biggest distributor of TV in the US, and one of the country's leading internet service providers. (FT)

S&P 500 futures are down 10 and NASDAQ futures are down 65.  The MSCI international index is down .45%.
Oil is up $.44 at $50.59 a barrel.  Prices hit a 4 month low yesterday, touching the lowest level since April as a persistent supply glut continues to weigh on traders.  The US shale boom continues to prove resilient in the face of lower prices.  
Gold is down $13 at $1090 a Troy ounce.  Gold hit a 5 year low yesterday, down 9 days in a row, as investors continue to sell the medal in anticipation of higher interest rates.

Earnings Reports Rule the Day

It's all about earnings this morning, with no government economic reports on the calendar for the second straight day. The Nasdaq is coming off another all-time closing high, while the S&P 500 is just points away from a record high close. (CNBC)

IBM earnings and sales tumbled in the second quarter. But executives instead tried to focus investors on the ongoing turnaround focused on cloud computing and mobile. Earnings per share were down 13% year-over-year. Sales also fell 13%. Second-quarter revenue would have been down 1%, stripping out the impact of currencies and divestitures. The report marked a 13th consecutive quarter in which the company's revenues fell versus the same quarter a year ago. IBM shares, which had rallied 6% this month, are down 6% in early trading. (USA Today)

Ford, the only domestic auto manufacture not to be bailed out by taxpayers, will launch a luxury version of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck today, as lower gas prices along with better fuel economy have boosted demand for feature-rich trucks and large SUVs. (CNBC)

Qualcomm will consider a breakup as well as other options, according to the Wall Street Journal. Activist investor Jana Partners has been pressuring Qualcomm to spin off its semiconductor business

Eggs and Toys Lead Earnings

The US economy exited deflation in June. The year-over-year percent change in the Consumer Price Index moved from 2.1% in mid-2014 to -0.2% in April 2015. The May reading was flat  and accelerated to +0.1% year over year in June. (LPL Research)

U.S. toymaker Hasbro reported a lower-than-expected decline in quarterly sales, helped by strong demand for its "Jurassic World"- and "Star Wars"-themed toys as traditional toys fell out of favor. Sales in North America rose 1%. International sales, about 45% of total revenue, declined 9%, hurt by a strong dollar. The company's profits fell 4%. (Reuters)

Cal-Maine Foods, the nation’s largest egg producer, reported a quarterly profit of $46.1 million. The egg producer posted revenue of $403 million.

Cal-Maine shares have climbed 38% since the beginning of the year. The stock has risen 49% in the last 12 months. (AP)

The long-anticipated split of eBay and PayPal becomes official today, with both companies set to begin trading separately at the open. (CNBC)

Mattel and GE Earnings

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders held in July at the highest level since November 2005, indicating the residential real estate market may be picking up speed. Builder confidence climbed in three of the four U.S. regions, with the Northeast showing the greatest improvement. Sentiment also rose in the West and Midwest. (Bloomberg)

General Electric's sales increased 2% to $32.75 billion in the second quarter, compared last year. GE is actively selling most of the assets contained within its GE Capital unit and those efforts temporarily dented the bottom line. Because of charges associated with that process, the company swung from a $3.5 billion profit a year ago to a $1.3 billion loss for the second quarter. (USA Today)

Mattel, the world’s largest toymaker, posted a surprise profit this quarter under a new CEO helped by a rise in demand for its Fisher-Price toys and lower costs. Sales of Fisher-Price toys, aimed at infants and preschoolers, rose 9%.  Fisher-Price sales had fallen 17% last year. The company has renewed its partnership with Walt Disney for the Toy Story films, just in time for the fourth installment of the franchise due in 2017. (Reuters)

Chips and Cigs in Earnings News

Stocks are rising in early trading as the euro hit six-week lows against the dollar and the Greek parliament approved austerity measures demanded by creditors for a third bailout. (CNBC)

Oregon’s largest employer, Intel, reported better-than-expected quarterly results as growth in its data centers and Internet-of-Things businesses helped offset weak demand for personal computers that use the company's chips. The company has been expanding its line-up of higher-margin chips used in data centers. Revenue from the data center business, Intel's second-largest, grew 9.7%. Revenue from the PC business, Intel's largest, fell 13.5%. Total profits fell 4.6%.  (Reuters)

Philip Morris International second-quarter profit rose as market share improved. The seller of Marlboro and other cigarette brands outside the United States earned $1.89 billion. Market share increased in several key markets, including Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia and Spain. Cigarette shipment volume fell 1.4%. The company said that this was due to declines in the European Union, mostly Italy. (AP)

The average credit card has six different fees, according to a new analysis of 100 major cards. The most fee-laden cards have 12, and just one of the cards assessed had no fees  whatsoever.

Banks, Railroads and Fast Food

Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly dropped in June. Purchases decreased 0.3% after a 1% gain in May. Eight of 13 major retail categories showed declines in demand. An early Memorial Day holiday that may have boosted sales in May at the expense of last month, and a longer school year caused by the harsh winter probably contributed to the more subdued sales performance for the quarter. Consumer spending accounts for almost 70%. (Bloomberg)

Bank of America's profits more than doubled in the second quarter, helped by lower legal costs. The banking giant had profits of  $4.99 billion. BofA's consumer banking division, its largest business by revenue and profits, had net income of $1.7 billion in the quarter. (AP)

Yum Brands,  the owner of Pizza Hut and KFC, reported its fourth straight quarter of falling sales, as the company struggles to regain lost ground in China. Yum's same-store sales in China plunged 10%. Overall, revenues fell 3% to $3.11 billion. Profits fell 30% $235 million.  (Reuters)

China's economy appears to be steadying, with quarterly growth coming in at 7% year-over-year. That beat forecasts, but renewed long-standing concerns over data accuracy. (CNBC)

CSX Corp.'s second-quarter profit improved 5% on lower costs, even though the number of shipments the railroad delivered declined slightly. Total volume at CSX, which operates more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces, slipped 1%. Coal revenue fell another 15%. Crude oil shipments increased modestly, but shipments of fracturing sand declined in the quarter, indicating reduced drilling activity. (AP)

Moving on from Greece to Puerto Rico

Stock are in rally mode this morning, after successful all-night bailout talks between Greek and euro zone leaders. The deal includes a $55 billion fund that will be set up using Greek government assets for privatization. European stocks cheered the Greek deal, while the euro lost ground to the dollar. U.S. bond yields and those across Europe are higher. (CNBC)

As we get ready for the next Apocalypse Dejour, investors in Puerto Rican municipal bonds hope to get specific information about how the commonwealth plans to restructure debt when government officials meet with creditors today. (Bloomberg)

On the earnings calendar we have big names like Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase set to release quarterly numbers later in the week. But no major companies are scheduled for today. (Seeking Alpha)

Wal-Mart is launching a rival sale Wednesday in response to Amazon's Prime Day celebration of the e-commerce giant's 20th anniversary. (USA Today)

Oil is down 62 cents at $52.12 a barrel. Oil prices were under pressure this morning as OPEC said its output rose in June, despite volatility. The group warned low prices might not give the boost to the world economy that some expected. (CNBC)

Greece, China and Puerto Rico

Stocks are higher this morning as the Chinese market staged a late session comeback and Europe opened higher on hopes of a meaningful reform proposal from Greece. Ahead of Sunday's deadline for a bailout agreement, Greece is due to present reform proposals to lenders today, which could include tax hikes and pension overhauls. (CNBC)

It is earnings session again. Pepsi had a strong second-quarter despite a stronger dollar that will trim the bottom-line by 11% in 2015. The drink and snack company boosted its full-year profit forecast.  For the quarter Pepsi earned a profit of $1.98 billion the same as last year. Revenues fell to $15.92 billion from $16.89 billion. Sales for Frito-Lay North America climbed 2%, while PepsiCo Americas Beverages sales edged up 1%. (AP)

Alcoa, the aluminum producer, reported second-quarter per-share profit of 19 cents on $5.9 billion in revenue. Profits missed and sales beat expectations. The company's says , they have been able to sign new contracts that bring down costs and say they  will  close its smelter in Brazil, which has a capacity below 100,000 tons per year. (Reuters)

According to this morning's Wall Street Journal IBM will announce a breakthrough this morning in efforts to reduce the size of semiconductors.  This could be the key to the company reinventing itself for future growth.

China's Stock Market Tanks

Chinese stocks are still in free-fall, as investors rush to sell what they still can after a fresh wave of share suspensions that have now halted trading in half the stocks on the two main exchanges.  The selloff has worsened as retail investors face margin calls, despite Chinese government attempts to prop up the market.  (FT)

Oil crossed an important symbolic line yesterday – prices are now 20% off their YTD high achieved in May.  When prices fall by 20% or more, this is commonly defined as a “bear” market.  A potential nuclear deal with Iran, the Chinese slowdown, and Greek turmoil are all contributing to the decline.  (WSJ).

Eurozone leaders have set a Sunday deadline for the Greek government to table a new proposal incorporating tougher economic measures if the country wants to avoid defaulting on the ECB and crashing out of the euro.  Any deal would involve the adoption of policy overhauls that were already resoundingly rejected by Greek voters last Sunday.   (WSJ)

On to Puerto Rico

New reforms-for-bailout aid proposals are expected from Greece today. The euro dropped to a five-week low against the dollar this morning. While equities declined slightly on Monday, they finished well off the early-session lows. Maybe we are putting Greece in the rearview mirror.  Now on to Puerto Rico. (CNBC)

Advance Auto Parts is set to join the S&P 500 after the close of trading tomorrow. The auto parts retailer replaces Family Dollar Stores, which has been acquired by S&P 500 member Dollar Tree. (Bloomberg)

Oregon’s Nike has struck a deal to outfit the University of Michigan's sports teams beginning with the 2016-2017 season, replacing Adidas. The new contract runs through at least 2027, with an option to extend. Nike continues its dramatic growth with this deal. (AP)

Is this the start of inflation? Starbucks is raising prices for some of its coffee drinks by 5 cents to 20 cents in the U.S., but some popular beverages such as the Grande Brewed Coffee and the Frappuccino were left unchanged. (Fox Business News)

The S&P 500 is up 9 and the NASDAQ is up 16.  MSCI International Index is down 0.3%.

Oil is flat at $52.55 a barrel.  U.S. oil prices have stabilized after Monday's 7.7% decline, which pushed crude into correction territory on concerns about global growth, record production, and potentially more Iran supply. (CNBC)

It's All Greece Today

Like a crack addict who is given the choice whether or not to attend rehab …. The Greeks voted no on continued austerity measures that will help them pay back the money they owe creditors.  Greece's decision has sent shockwaves across global financial as now investors wonder whether Athens can stay in the European Union. (CNBC)

Foreign exchange markets are reserving judgment on Greece's place in the euro with the euro down less than half a percent. The euro had sunk below $1.10 in initial trading. Greece's banks have been closed for almost a week. (Bloomberg)

Humana has agreed to be bought by rival Aetna for $35 billion in cash and stock. The deal is expected to face rigorous scrutiny from U.S. regulators. (CNBC)

Apple's next iPhone has started entering the production process. Suppliers have begun delivering parts to device manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron. (DigiTimes)

Dollar Tree has received FTC approval to acquire rival Family Dollar Stores after a nearly year-long review. The combined company has to divest more than 300 stores. Dollar Tree expects the deal to be completed today. (AP)

Volatile Stock Market

US Stocks ended a volatile trading session slightly higher yesterday.  The US Stock market ended the 2nd quarter lower.  It was the first negative performance quarter for US stocks in 9 quarters.  On the year stocks are essentially flat.

The Eurozone-funded portion of Greece's $272 Billion rescue deal officially expired last night.  Greece is also now in arrears with the International Monetary Fund after missing a $1.5 Billion payment that was due yesterday.  The IMF has now officially suspended any financing to Greece which is going to make it very tough on the Greek people.  It appears that Greece is backing themselves into a corner with few options but to default and leave the European Union.

The Case/Shiller Index which measures house prices in 20 major US cities shows that house price rose 1.1% nationally in April over the same period last year.  Seattle saw the largest monthly increase of any major US city.

US consumer confidence jumped higher in June, much higher than economists had expected.  Over the last 2 months the US consumer has grown more confident about the state of business and employment conditions.

And Nike the world's largest shoe company announced yesterday that their founder and chairman, Phil Knight, will step down as chairman next year.  Knight said he will continue to play an active role in the company after his tenure ends.  Knight still owns 16.26% of the company.


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