Wall St. Breakfast's Pre-Market Snapshot:
U.S. Futures As of 8:52 AM EST
S&P 500: +9.10; 1,402.30
NASDAQ 100: +17.25; 1,754.75
Dow: +61.00; 12,262.00
NIKKEI 225: +1.94%; 17,090.31 (+325.69)
HANG SENG: +1.36%; 19,175.17 (+256.53)
S&P/ASX 200: -0.05%; 5,822.30 (-3.00)
BSE SENSEX 30: +3.73%; 13,049.35 (+469.60)
FTSE 100: +0.93%; 6,213.50 (+57.00)
CAC 40: +0.87%; 5,502.47 (+47.40)
XETRA-DAX: +0.92%; 6,678.75 (+61.00)
Commodity Futures (Reuters/Jefferies CRB)
Oil: +0.16%; $61.92 (+$0.10)
Gold: +0.20%; $654.20 (+$1.30)
Natural Gas: -1.28%; $7.27 (-$0.09)
Silver: +0.34%; $13.15 (+$0.045)
U.S. Breaking News — see today's Wall Street Breakfast for earlier news
Retail Same-Store Sales Roundup
Most retailers' February sales numbers came out this morning:
Sources: Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII
- WalMart Inc. February same-store sales were up 0.9%, vs. analyst estimates of 1.5%. Total sales rose 8.1% to $26.8b. It said housewares and apparel sales remain weak.
- Costco Wholesale Corp. said February same-store sales were up 4%, vs. consensus estimates of 5.1%. Total sales were up 9% to $4.22b.
- Gap Inc. same-store sales fell 4%, vs. analyst estimates of -4.6%. Total sales dropped 5% to $910m. The company said results at Gap and Old Navy stores continue to challenge.
- Target Corp. same-store sales were up 5.7%, vs. consensus estimates of 5.1%. Total sales rose 10.7% to $4.13b.
- Limited Brands Inc. February sales at stores open at least one year was up 3%, vs. estimates of a 4% rise. Net sales climbed from $636m to $730m.
- McDonald's Corp. total same-store sales rose 5.7% (U.S. 3.1% and Europe 5.9%).
- Abercrombie & Fitch Co. same-store sales fell 6%, vs. estimates of 2.3%. Net sales were up 7% to $207m.
- Federated Department Stores Inc. same-store sales climbed 1.2%, vs. consensus estimates of 2.8%. Total sales were flat at $1.8b. The store forecasted March/April same-store sales gains of 2.5-4%.
- J.C. Penney Company Inc. same-store sales fell 0.2%, vs. analyst estimates of a 0.5% fall. Total sales rose 1.6%. The company said it expects a sharp rise in March sales.
- Kohl's Corp. same-store sales were up 4.4%, vs. estimates of a 2.9% gain.
- TJX Companies Inc. sales at stores open at least a year rose 2%, vs. analyst estimates of 2.4%. Total sales rose 6% to $1.2b. It said harsh winter weather cooled sales in some regions.
- Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. said sales at stores open at least one year fell 5.7%, vs. analyst estimates of -3.7%. Total sales rose 1.2% to $88.7 million.
- Cache Inc. same-store sales were up 1% vs. estimates of 4.6%. Total sales fell 0.5% to $19.9m.
- Bebe Stores Inc. same-store sales fell 2.2% (the company said the line wasn't "sexy" enough) vs. analyst estimates of +2.2%. Total sales rose 7% to $43m.
- Nordstrom Inc. same-store sales rose 9.1%. Total sales were up 9.5% to $547m.
- Pier 1 Imports Inc. said February sales at stores open at least one year fell 8.4% vs. analyst estimates of -4.4%. Total sales were up 14.3% to $120.5m.
- Claire's Stores Inc. sales at stores open at least a year rose 1% vs. estimates of 2.1%. Total sales rose 9% to $98.9m.
- Stein Mart Inc. said its same-store sales fell 1.9%, vs. analyst estimates of a 3% gain. Total sales rose 7.3% to $104.3m.
- Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. posted a 25% drop in same-store sales, vs. -7.5% estimates.
- Saks Inc. said yesterday comparable-store sales surged 25%, vs. estimates of 6.4%.
- American Eagle Outfitters Inc. said yesterday same-store sales rose 6%, vs. estimates of 8.2%.
- Sharper Image Corp. said yesterday same-store sales fell 24%, its 28th straight month in decline.
- Dillard's Inc. said its February same-store sales fell 9%, vs. estimates of a 1.2% drop.
- Aeropostale Inc. same-store sales rose 2.3%, vs. estimates of 2.2%. Total sales rose 12% to $75.5m.
- Bon-Ton Stores Inc. February sales tripled and same-store sales rose 14.6%, vs. estimates of a 2% drop.
- PriceSmart Inc. same-store sales jumped 21%. Total sales were also up 21% to $63.3m.
- Christopher & Banks Corp. sales at stores open at least one year fell 13%, vs. estimates of a 3.6% drop. Total sales climbed 21% to $35m.
- Cato Corp. same-store sales were flat, in-line with analyst estimates.
- Rite Aid Corp. same-store sales gained 2.2%, vs. estimates of 3.3%.
- Dollar General Corp. same-store sales rose 4.9%, vs. analyst estimates of 4.6%. Total sales went from $645m to $696m.
- Ross Stores Inc. said January sales at stores open at least a year rose 2%, vs. estimates of 1.8%. Total sales increased 38% to $399m.
Commentary: Retailers Post January Same Store Sales • Are Retail Sales Good For the Economy? • An Optimistic Outlook On Consumer Spending
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (NASDAQ:PSUN), Cache Inc. (NASDAQ:CACH), bebe stores inc. (NASDAQ:BEBE), Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN), Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE:PIR), Claire's Stores Inc. (CLE), Limited Brands Inc. (LTD), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST), Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ:SMRT), Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. (WLSN), Saks Inc. (NYSE:SKS), American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (AEOS), Sharper Image Corp. (SHRP), J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE:JCP), Federated Department Stores Inc. (FD), Dillard's Inc. (NYSE:DDS), Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF), Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE:ARO), McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD), Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:BONT), PriceSmart Inc. (NASDAQ:PSMT), Christopher & Banks Corp. (NYSE:CBK), Cato Corp. (NYSE:CTR), Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE:RAD), Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT), TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE:TJX), Kohl's Corp. (NYSE:KSS), Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG), Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST)
Initial Claims Four-Week Average Rises To Highest Level Since Katrina
The U.S. Labor Department reported this morning that initial claims fell 10,000 to 328,000 last week, but said the number of people filing for unemployment for the first time rose over the latest four-week period to 339,000, the highest its been since post-Hurricane Katrina numbers. The four-week average, considered a better gauge by economists is up roughly 10% from a month ago levels. Friday's report on February's non-farm payrolls will help flesh out the employment picture. Economists are expecting growth of roughly 100,000 jobs. Futures have been relatively unaffected by this morning's initial claims report.
• Sources: MarketWatch, Bloomberg
• Commentary: Macro Overview: Good News and Bad News • Fed: Some Districts Showed Slowing in February • January Factory Orders: Worst Decline in Over Six Years
• Stocks and ETFs to watch: S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY), Diamonds Trust Series 1 ETF (NYSEARCA:DIA), iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond (NYSEARCA:AGG)
ECB Hikes 25 Basis Points to 3.75%
The European Central Bank raised its key interest rate by a quarter percent to 3.75% despite the fact inflation has slowed to 1.8%, under the ECB's 2.0% target. The hike was not a surprise however, as Bloomberg reports all 38 estimates it polled expected a hike and since most economists expect the ECB to hike to 4% by year's end. Market participants are said to be paying more attention to the press conference currently underway, looking for any signals and specific commentary about the market's recent volatility, from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet. A senior European economist at Merrill Lynch (London) comments, " The key will be whether they continue to describe monetary policy as accommodative. That's a sign they've left the door open to another increase."
Sources: Bloomberg, MarketWatch
Commentary: What Good Is the Carry Trade? • Economists Expect Fed to Sit Tight on Rates Throughout 2007 • BoJ Hikes to 0.5%; To Maintain 'Gradualist' Strategy, Yen Falls
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Competitors: ETFs: SPDRs (SPY), iShares Lehman 1 - 3 Year Treasury Bond Fund (NYSEARCA:SHY), iShares Lehman 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund (NYSEARCA:TLT), iShares Lehman 7 - 10 Year Treasury Bond Fund (NYSEARCA:IEF), PowerShares DB G10 Currency Harvest Fund (NYSEARCA:DBV), Euro Currency Trust (NYSEARCA:FXE)
Costco's Net Falls 16% After Charges; EPS is In-Line
Costco Wholesale Corp. reported its F2Q07 profit fell 16% despite an increase in revenue, largely due to one-time charges totaling $94.5 million. By the numbers, Costco pulled in net income of $249.5 million, good for EPS of $0.54, down from EPS of $0.62 ($296.2 million) in the year earlier period. Total revenue including club memberships increased 7.5% to $15.11 billion while sales at stores open at least a yearwere up 5%. Excluding charges, the largest of which was options backdating related, profit would have been $0.66 a share, in-line with Thomson Financial consensus estimates. Shares rose by $0.28, or 0.50%, to $56.40 in pre-market action.
• Sources: Press Release, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, MarketWatch. [Check back later for Costco's conference call transcript.]
• Commentary: Costco: A Good Business at a Fair Price - Barron's • Costco is No Walmart • Four Ways to Invest in Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway
• Stocks and ETFs to watch: Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST). Competitors: Wal-Mart (WMT), Target (TGT), BJ's Wholesale Club (NYSE:BJ). ETFs: Retail HOLDRs (NYSEARCA:RTH), Consumer Discretionary SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLY)
3M Taking Sony, Others to Court over Battery Patent Infringement
3M is suing Sony, Lenovo, Matsushita and others over patent infringements related to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. It also asked the U.S. Int'l Trade Commission to block imports of the rechargeable batteries and notebook PCs containing them. 3M says it has spent 10 years of R&D on cathode materials inside the batteries, which has allowed it to make them longer lasting and less prone to overheating. Sony reportedly uses the technology in batteries it manufactures for notebook PCs. CDW Corp., Batteries Com and Hitachi are also part of the suit. CDW and Total Micro Technologies make batteries for Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops. Batteries Com makes batteries for Dell, but Dell is not part of 3M's suit. Hitachi and Matsushita's Panasonic are cited for their use of rechargeable batteries in cordless power tools. Last year Sony lost over $400 million in a massive recall related to overheating and in some cases, exploding notebook PC batteries.
Commentary: Jim Cramer's Take on 3M • 3M Gifts Shareholders with $7 Billion Share Buyback • Sony's Q2 Earnings Tank on Battery Recall Costs, PS3 Development
Stocks/ETFs to watch: 3M (NYSE:MMM), Sony (NYSE:SNE), Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY), Matsushita Electric Industrial (NYSE:MC), Hitachi (HIT), CDW Corp (CDWC)
Seeking Alpha's news summaries are combined into a pre-market briefing called Wall Street Breakfast. Get Wall Street Breakfast by email -- it's free and takes only a few seconds to sign up.
Asian Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)
• Asian Shares Rise, Led by Totoya on Yen; CLP Gains on Attractive Dividends Asian stocks rose, led by Japanese exporters including Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) after the yen weakened. CLP Holdings Ltd. (OTCPK:CLPHY) and Nippon Steel Corp. led an advance by companies that pay above-average dividends.
• Paulson Asks China to Open Markets Faster, Address `Imbalanced' Economy U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said China risks wasting trillions of dollars in resources and lost economic potential unless it rapidly opens its capital markets.
• Yen Falls, World's Worst Performing Currency, as Global Equities Rebound The yen declined as a rebound in global stocks gave investors greater confidence to sell the currency and buy higher-yielding assets overseas.
• Swire Pacific Second-Half Underlying Profit Falls on Lack of One-Time Gain Swire Pacific Ltd., a Hong Kong landlord and part-owner of the city's largest airline, posted a 4.4 percent fall in second-half underlying profit after a one- time gain wasn't repeated.
• Aeon to Buy Stakes in Japanese Retailers Daiei and Maruetsu, People Say Aeon Corp. (OTCPK:AONNY), Japan's largest supermarket operator, will acquire 15 percent of Daiei Inc. (DAIEY) from trading house Marubeni Corp. (OTCPK:MARUY), creating Japan's largest retail group, said three people involved in the deal.
European Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)
• Stocks Climb in Europe for a Third Day; Deutsche Bank, Suez, Aegon Advance European stocks rallied for a third day, led by Suez SA (NYSE:SZE) and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG after the companies reported earnings that topped analysts' estimates.
• BMW Earnings Climb 17 Percent on Updated Models of X5 SUVs, 3-Series Sedan Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world's largest maker of luxury cars, said fourth-quarter profit rose 17 percent on demand for the X5 sport-utility vehicle and 3-Series sedan and the sale of a stake in a plane-engine maker.
• HBOS, West Coast Agree to Buy British Homebuilder Crest for $1.38 Billion HBOS Plc and retail entrepreneur Tom Hunter's West Coast Capital agreed to buy the rest of Crest Nicholson Plc for 552 million pounds ($1.07 billion), their second acquisition of a British homebuilder in seven months.
• Carrefour, After Ousting Chairman, Posts Higher Net on France, Asia Sales Carrefour SA, Europe's biggest retailer, reported second-half profit almost doubled on sales in France, Latin America and Asia, a day after its chairman was ousted and billionaire Bernard Arnault said he bought a stake.