Business News Archives for 2015-11

Let's Go Shopping

U.S. stocks are higher on this last day of November, with the S&P 500, and Nasdaq looking to chalk up their 6th positive month of 2015 with one month to go. (CNBC)
The Thanksgiving weekend was split evenly between traffic to Internet and physical stores, with a total of more than 151 million shoppers opening up their wallets. About 121 million people plan to buy online on this Cyber Monday. According to the National Retail Federation, 29.6 million or 24.4% of consumers said they plan to use their mobile device to shop today. (RTT News/CNBC) 
The Commerce Department says new-home sales climbed 10.7% in October to an annual rate of 495,000. Sales dropped slightly in the West. Purchases of new homes have surged 15.7% year-to-date. The median new-home sales price has fallen 8.5% from a year ago to $281,500.
U.S. consumer sentiment inched up in November  according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's survey. The final November reading on the index was 91.3, which was higher than the previous month's reading of 90.
Oil is up. While oil was higher this morning, prices are on course to end November some 10% lower, as the global supply glut showed no sign of easing and a strong dollar further weighed on prices. (Reuters)

A Happy Gobble Before Thanksgiving

Annualized U.S. single-family home prices rose in September at a faster pace than in August and above market expectations. The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 5.5% in September on a year-over-year. (Reuters) 
Iron ore sank to the lowest level in at least six years amid speculation that mills in China are cutting back steel output, hurting demand for the raw material. Iron ore has been battered by rising output and faltering demand for steel in China. (Bloomberg)
Deere reported a fourth-quarter profit of $351 million. The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The agricultural equipment manufacturer posted revenue of $5.93 billion. Deere shares have dropped 14% since the beginning of the year. (AP)
A definitive rise in mortgage interest rates over the last month is slowing home borrowing in the near-term.  Loan application volume fell 3.2% last week. Volume is now skewing toward larger loans for more expensive homes. Refinance applications are 4% higher compared with a year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity now stands at 58.7% of total applications.  Applications to purchase a home are 24% higher than one year ago. (Mortgage Bankers Association)

Actions by Turkey Drive Market

U.S. stocks are lower this morning, caught up in a global market selloff after the Turkish military shot down a Russian fighter jet along the Syrian border. (Reuters)
The second reading of third quarter Gross Domestic Product says the U.S. economy posted an annual growth rate of 2.1%, higher than the 1.5% estimate a month ago. (CNBC)
Mentor Graphics sharply cut its sales forecast for the rest of the year, sending the stock to its lowest point since the spring of 2013. Mentor makes software, used to design computer chips and other complex systems.  Mentor now project $336 million in sales for the fourth quarter, 23.5% below a year ago. The company employs 1,000 in Wilsonville. (Oregonian)
Hormel Foods profits rose 9.3% in the latest quarter helped by strong contributions from its Spam, Hormel pepperoni, Dinty Moore stew, Wholly Guacamole dips and Muscle Milk brands. The company’s Jennie-O Turkey segment profit declined 23% and sales were down 18%, dented by the bird-flu outbreak earlier this year. Hormel, which also makes Skippy peanut butter, saw sales slip 5.6% to $2.4 billion despite the better profits. (WSJ)

Short Week of Trading

The S&P 500 is coming off its best week since October 2014, with a gain of 3.3%. The Nasdaq was up nearly 3.6% for its best week in four months. (CNBC)
Just 32 days till Christmas and as part of the growing trend to start holiday sales earlier, Wal-Mart is starting Cyber Monday sales the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend, with the first round of deals at 5 p.m. PT. (Fox Business News)
Tyson Foods, the biggest U.S. meat processor, reported profits rose 80% to $258 million, helped by strong demand for chicken products and as the Hillshire Brands acquisition boosted sales of prepared foods. The company bought Jimmy Dean sausage maker Hillshire Brands last year for $8.5 billion. Total sales rose 4% to $10.51 billion. (Reuters)
Procter & Gamble should be broken up to improve performance, according to Barron's, which projects P&G's businesses could be worth $90 per share if broken up, compared to Friday's close of $75.82. 
United Auto Workers leaders ratified a four-year contract with General Motors. Separately, Ford workers narrowly approved its four-year labor contract with the union. (CNBC)

Big Oregon Companies Give Back

U.S. economic activity rose in October, suggesting an improving pace of economic expansion according to the Leading Economic Index.  Despite lackluster third quarter growth, the economic outlook now appears to be improving. (Fox Business News)
Soon to be Oregon’s only Fortune 500 Company, Nike will buy back $12 billion in stock, raise its dividend by14% to 32 cents and split stock 2-for-1. The stock split will occur after the market close Dec. 23 to shareholders of record on Dec. 9. (Investor Business Daily)
Oregon’s largest employer, Intel will boost its quarterly dividend next year by 2 cents, to 26 cents. The PC chip giant also expects 2016 revenue to rise in the mid-single digits. (Investor Business Daily)
Ross Stores beat on the top and bottom lines, with comparable store sales rising 3%. The discount retailer sees Q4 profit slightly below estimates, because of a highly promotional holiday season.
Join us this weekend for Financial Focus Radio when we will talk about terrorism and investing. Sunday Morning at 10:00 

Back in the Green

U.S. stocks are building on Wednesday's strong Fed minutes-inspired rally that erased November's losses. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are in the green for the year. The minutes from the Fed's October meeting reinforced the message that interest rates could go up next month, signaling the economy was strong enough to handle a move. But policymakers did leave themselves some wiggle room for delay. (CNBC)
Best Buy shares plunged after reporting another round of disappointing quarterly sales as it faces tougher competition from online stores. Third-quarter profits rose 16.8%. But the company reported a 2.4% drop in sales. The company also reported disappointing same-store-sales growth of 0.5%. (AP)
J.M. Smucker saw sales jump 40% in the quarter, boosted by its pet food business and coffee sales. 
The makers of Folgers coffee, Pillsbury products those yummy jellies, jams and peanut butter saw profits increase 11% from a year earlier. Like other big food companies, Smucker has been losing out to smaller competitors that are positioning their products as fresher and more natural. (WSJ) 
A four-year labor deal between Ford, the only domestic auto-maker not to be bailed out by tax payers and the UAW appears set to be rejected. Meanwhile, the union may ratify as soon as tomorrow its contract with General Motors. (Reuters)

Running on Emotions

U.S. stocks are higher this morning, despite European equities being under pressure on security concerns after the attacks in Paris. This week’s trading action has been an excellent example of how emotions, not fundamentals, can push markets around in the short-term.  In other potential market moving news we get the latest Fed minutes late this morning. (CNBC)
Lowe's, the No.2 U.S. home improvement chain, reported better-than-expected results helped by a strong recovery in the U.S. housing market. Lowe's same-store sales rose 4.6% in the quarter. The company's profits rose to $736 million, from $585 million a year ago. Net sales rose 5% to $14.36 billion. (Reuters)
Target raised its full-year earnings forecast for the second time in three months. Target posted third-quarter profits up 59% from last year. Revenue was essentially flat. (CNBC)
Homebuyers seem undeterred by the highest mortgage rates in five months, with loan application volume increasing 6.2% last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Sales of electronic cigarettes have fallen sharply in recent months; ending five years of triple-digit growth and making the much-touted category look more like a potential fad than real threat to Big Tobacco. (WSJ)

Mixed Retail Earnings

The October Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% as expected.  That reverses a drop of the same amount in September. The number ex-food and energy rose 0.2%. Year-over-year consumer prices are up 1.9% (Department of Commerce)
Shares of Dick's Sporting Goods are getting destroyed, down 16%, after a disappointing third quarter earnings and a downbeat forecast for the fourth quarter. Dick's reported third quarter earnings of $0.45 per share on sales of $1.64 billion. Same-store sales were up 0.4%. (Business Insider)
Wal-Mart gave upbeat earnings guidance, as sales at existing U.S. stores rose for the fifth straight quarter amid improved traffic. Overall profit and revenue edged lower in the quarter on weaker international sales and the stronger dollar. (WSJ)
Home Depot posted profits of $1.7 billion in the third quarter, up 12.2% compared to last year, fueled by a strong housing market. Sales increased 6.4% to $21.9 billion. Same store sales rose 5.1%. (USA Today)
McDonald's is testing a new value meal scheme called the "McPick 2" that offers two low-priced items for $2. The option reinstates the $1 price point the fast food chain abandoned in 2012.  (AP)

Terror Attacks Drive Markets

World stock markets are mixed in the aftermath of Friday night's terrorist attacks in Paris. U.S. and European stock markets were generally higher, while Asia was led lower by Japan equities. Oil prices are higher this morning amid uncertainty over Paris, after last week's sharp declines. Meanwhile, Gold is higher on safe haven buying. The euro was under pressure, falling to a 6-and-1/2 month low. (CNBC)
This falls under the category of good advice. Billionaire Warren Buffett said Monday the terrorist attacks in Paris won't change his investment decisions. "I'm not selling any securities because of the attacks in Paris, not at all," he said in a phone interview with CNBC.
Marriott is buying Starwood Hotels in a $12.2 billion deal that will make it the largest hotel chain in the world. The new company will manage more than 5,500 hotels with 1.1 million rooms worldwide. Starwood has 11 brands, including W Hotels, St. Regis, Westin, and Aloft. (USA Today)
Microsoft confirmed this weekend that it has delayed or killed a tool that would make it easy for Android apps to run on Windows 10 phones and tablets. Astoria was the effort unveiled in April as part of a to get developers who write for Android, iOS or the Web to bring their programs to Windows. (Recode)

Retail Sales Continue Concern

Haggen grocery chain is auctioning off 95 stores today as part of bankruptcy proceedings it started in September.  Many of the stores for sale were purchased from Albertsons and Safeway in December 2014. Now Albertsons is looking to buy back 36 of the stores in Washington, Oregon and Arizona. Albertsons was forced to sell the stores last year by the Federal Trade Commission when it merged with Safeway. The Bend stores may be sold next year. (AP)
Department store operator Kohl's reported quarterly sales up 1.2% and profits falling 15.5%, helped by strong back-to-school sales, sending its shares up as much as 11% in premarket trading. Kohl's same-store sales rose 1% in the third quarter. U.S. back-to-school sales rose 4.7% in August from a year earlier. Back-to-school season is the second-biggest U.S. shopping period after the holiday season. (Reuters)
Just 43 days till Christmas and online shopping is making big moves. For the first time ever, most of Wal-Mart's Black Friday deals will be available online, starting at 3:01 a.m. ET on Thanksgiving Day. In-store sales, won't kick off until 6 p.m. local time. (CNBC)
Health care costs paid by the average U.S. Company rose 3.2% in 2015, lowest rate in at least 20 years. Despite this, the average amount workers have to contribute toward their health care is up more than 134% over the past decade and that trend will accelerate. Employees on average contributed $2,490 toward premiums and another $2,208 in out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles in 2015.  (USA Today)

Veterans Day Trading Action

Thank you to all our veterans and active duty military personnel.  The stock market is open as usual but the bond market closed for Veterans Day. There are no government reports and some businesses are also closed.  
The fast-food chain McDonald’s, has faced pressure to spin off its company-owned U.S. restaurants into a real estate investment trust, but has concluded such a move would be risky and not offer investors enough upside. McDonald’s gets a big chunk of revenue from the rent it collects from franchisees. Rent payments to McDonald’s have risen 26% between 2009 and 2014.  (Reuters)
Safeway is trying to dissolve its partnership with startup Theranos. The supermarket chain has spent $350 million to build clinics to offer Theranos blood tests, which never began. (WSJ)
Macy's reported a third-quarter profit of $118 million on sales of $5.87 billion. Both numbers were lower than expected.  The company was hurt by the warm fall weather.  Macy's shares have decreased 28% since the beginning of the year. (AP)
A sharp jump in mortgage rates did not affect the pace of home loan applications as much as expected, with total volume falling  just 1.3% last week . (Mortgage Bankers Association)
U.S. oil prices fell this morning, after industry data showed an increase in crude stockpiles.

Inflation Remains Muted

Portland based Blount International posted Q3 sales of $209 million, down 15% compared to prior year. Profits declined 22% to $30 million.  The company continues to experience significant headwinds driven by the strength of the U.S. Dollar. Blount International, is a global manufacturer and marketer of replacement parts, equipment, and accessories for the forestry
and agriculture; selling its products in more than 115 countries around the world. (Globe Newswire)
U.S. small business confidence was unchanged in October; with hiring stagnant even as more owners expected higher sales and more planned to make capital outlays according to The National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index. The report shows muted inflation pressures with only 2% of owners raising their prices. (Reuters)
Men's Warehouse shares have tanked more than 40% since the company pre-announced dismal third-quarter results from its Jos. A. Bank brand on Friday. The company said that comparable sales at its Jos A. Bank label fell 14.6%. The company says same-store sales are expected to decline 20% to 25% more in the fourth quarter. (CNBC)
Chipotle may be able to reopen restaurants in Washington state and Oregon tomorrow , after tests found food samples to be free of the E. coli bacteria. (Reuters)

Merger Monday

Weyerhaeuser has agreed to acquire Plum Creek Timber for $8.4 billion, in an all-stock deal, that represents a 21% premium to Plum Creek’s closing price on Friday. The deal will create the largest private owner of timberland in the US. The new company will have a value of $22.5 billion and manage 13 million acres of timberland. (FT)
Berkshire Hathaway more than doubled its third-quarter profit on its ownership in Kraft Heinz but saw weakness in its core insurance underwriting business.
The Warren Buffett-led company suffered big paper losses during the quarter on its IBM ownership. The company’s book value, a measure of net worth, rose 3.3% to $151,083 a share for the first nine months of the year, compared with a 7.1% increase in the year prior. (WSJ)
The Portland, Oregon-based Craft Brew Alliance, stock symbol BREW, reported third-quarter profits of $732,000 on revenue of $54.7 million.  The brewer makes Kona, Widmer Brothers and Redhook beers. Shares have fallen 46% since the beginning of the year. (AP)
Dean Foods, the largest U.S. milk processor, reported a third-quarter profit of $20.2 million, compared with a $16 million loss last year, helped by higher prices. Sales fell 14.3% to $2.03 billion. Dean Foods shares have fallen more than 7% in 2015. (Reuters)

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!!!

The S&P 500 and NASDAQ remain on pace for a sixth consecutive positive week for the first time in 2015, despite losses the past two days.  But that streak could depend on today’s big jobs report. (CNBC)
The Department of Labor says the US economy added 271,000 jobs in October – 268,000 in the private sector and 3,000 by government with your tax dollars.  August and September were revised upwards.  The unemployment rate stands at 5%. Hourly wages are up 2.5% over the last year, the most since July 2009.
Could this be the bubble that will lead to the next market sell-off? Key federal banking regulators have raised red flags about risks in the nation's lending system in a new report, saying leveraged loans and borrowing by oil and gas companies are areas of particular concern. (CNBC)
Kraft Heinz reported earnings as a single company for the first time showing profits slid despite budget cuts and job eliminations. Earnings fell 3.4% to $1.5 billion, partly because the stronger U.S. dollar. Comparable sales fell 2%, driven partly by weak demand for its beverages and boxed dinners in the U.S. Kraft Heinz also said it increased its quarterly dividend by 4.5% to 57.5 cents a share.  (WSJ)

Earnings, Jobs and a Sliding Euro

How bad is this earnings season? Well, according to Bloomberg, about three-quarters of the S&P 500 have already reported results, with profits down 3.1% on a share-weighted basis due to plunging profits oil and commodity-related companies. The figures reveal the biggest quarterly drop in earnings since 3Q of 2009, and the second straight period of profit declines. Earnings growth turned negative for the first time in six years last quarter.  (SA)
The euro is getting weaker and the U.S. dollar is getting stronger, reigniting a debate among traders over whether the currencies will trade in parity before the end of the year. The moves follow recent dovish remarks from ECB President Mario Draghi and comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, The Euro has recently edged down to just $1.08... (FT)
Jobless numbers are just out this morning: Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 276,000, higher than expectations of 262,000.  It was the 35th straight week that claims were below the 300,000 threshold, which is normally associated with a strong jobs market. (CBNC)
Oil is down $.02 at $46.32 a barrel. Saudi Arabia's state oil company has raised its official selling prices to Asia for December but cut them for Europe and the United States, as the world's largest crude exporter tries to place its barrels in an oversupplied market. (FT)

Earnings and Jobs Drive Market

Mortgage interest rates rose last week and total mortgage applications fell 0.8%from the previous week. But applications are 10% higher than a year ago. Applications to refinance are 4% higher than a year ago and applications to purchase are 20% higher. (Mortgage Bankers Association)
Maybe Oregon City Governments can learn something about free enterprise from San Francisco voters. On Tuesday the San Francisco electorate defeated a ballot measure to curb short-term home and apartment rentals, handing a victory to companies such as Airbnb and the homeowners they represent. (Reuters)
The largest producer of OSB used in home building, Louisiana-Pacific, reported a loss of $26.5 million the last quarter. The home construction supplier posted sales of $464.9 million in the period. Shares are down 7% on the news. (AP)
Northwest Natural Gas reported a loss of $6.7 million in its third quarter. The natural gas distributor posted revenue of $93.1 million in the period. Northwest Natural Gas shares have declined slightly more than 4 percent since the beginning of the year.  (AP)
Office Depot reported third-quarter earnings that fell to $6 million, from a year ago. Costs related to the OfficeMax merger and pending acquisition of Staples were a drag on the bottom-line. Sales fell to $3.69 billion from $4.07 billion, on slightly better-than-expected North American retail sales. The stock, has dropped  about 13% year to date. (Market Watch)

Global Concerns Rule

November got off to a rousing start, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq in positive territory for the year. All major stock measures are coming off their best closes in nearly three months. (CNBC)
Walgreens Boots Alliance is willing to divest as many as 1,000 stores in order to win approval to buy rival Rite Aid. Walgreens, however, doesn't expect to have to sell more than 500 stores. What this means for stores in Central Oregon is not yet clear. (AP)
After less than a year, the investment firm of billionaire George Soros has pulled its $500 million from a Janus bond fund managed by Bill Gross, because of poor returns. This could further hurt future returns as more investors follow the Soros lead and pull their money. (WSJ)
CEO’s are less confident about economic conditions in every major region across the globe, according to a quarterly survey of top business executives. Confidence in the U.S. dropped for the third consecutive quarter. In July, 37% of CEOs said that the economy had improved in the previous six months, in October survey, it slipped to 31%. The Global index fell 2.8 points to 58.1. The steepest decline among the nine global regions surveyed was Asia, where confidence dropped 4.7 points to 57.3. (CNBC)
American International Group, AIG, reported a third-quarter loss of $231 million. AIG blamed lower income on hedge-fund investments and assets marked to fair value through earnings, lower realized investment gains, and lower income from settlements of non-operating litigation. (AP)

End of an Era for HP

Fruitful October was always going to be a hard month to follow. After strong gains, lacklustre Chinese data has left stock indices looking ripe for a fall at the start of the November trade.  European bourses are weakening, and there are losses across Asian stock benchmarks, after data out over the weekend showed a further contraction in China's manufacturing sector. (FT)

Meg Whitman will ring the bell of the New York Stock Exchange this morning, as the brand-new company she will lead - Hewlett Packard Enterprise- begins trading. The move will mark the end of the yearlong process of dividing the 76-year-old giant, resulting in two companies that are expected to have about $50B in annual revenue and each be among America's 500 largest public companies. On one side will be HP, which will largely consist of personal computers and printers. On the other will be HP Enterprise, which will sell servers, data storage, networking and consulting services. (SA)

Visa has agreed to acquire its former European subsidiary in a deal that could be worth as much as $25bn.  To fund the deal, Visa said it planned to raise about $16bn on the bond market in the first quarter of next year.  Combining forces will boost Visa’s scale to compete with rival MasterCard.  (FT)

The bond market is booming again, a sign of investors’ faith in the resilience of the U.S. economy.  U.S. bond sales by companies with good credit ratings hit $103 billion in October, a record for the month.  Corporate-bond sales in the U.S. are on track for their fourth straight annual record.  Many analysts say they expect bond sales to continue at a vigorous pace through the end of the year, reflecting steady economic growth, pent-up investor demand following a late-summer slowdown in bond issuance, and efforts by corporate treasurers to lock in low interest rates before a possible Federal Reserve interest-rate increase in December.  (WSJ)


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