Rob Black's Retail Stock Report

Includes: EBAY, HD, MCD, PEP
by: Rob Black
Prudential assigned Home Depot (NYSE:HD) an "underweight'' rating.

eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) is in talks to sell part or all of its Chinese operations to Tom Group. A sale would be a setback for eBay, which invested $100 mln last year to further its ambitions in China.

"Billions served," indeed. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) is the world's #1 fast-food company by sales, with more than 31,800 flagship restaurants serving burgers and fries in more than 100 countries. McDonald's today said 3rd-quarter profit increased more than anticipated on rising European sales and U.S. debuts of a $1.29 chicken-snack wrap and a stronger coffee blend.

Global sales gained 5.8 percent. In Europe McDonald’s distributed coupon books in the U.K. and offered 2-for-1 discounts on Big Mac sandwiches in Germany to drive Europe's comparable-sales. Sales increased in all major markets, rising 4.1 percent in U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months. McDonald's shares have rebounded 29 percent since the year's low on June 13, reflecting investor confidence that rising European sales will buoy profit and falling gasoline prices will help U.S. sales.

PepsiCo. (NYSE:PEP), the world's second- largest soft-drink maker, said profit rose 71 percent on sales of non-carbonated drinks such as Gatorade and Frito-Lay snacks. Income was a not too shabby $1.48 billion. The 71 percent jump was helped by last year's weak earnings when profit was hurt by costs to return overseas earnings to the U.S.

Sales rose 9.4 percent to $8.95 billion. The company increased its full-year forecast for a second time this year. PepsiCo promoted drinks such as Lipton Citrus Green Tea to lure consumers who have cut back on sodas and win drinkers from Coca-Cola. Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi led PepsiCo in buying companies that sell healthier snacks such as Stacy's Pita Chip. PepsiCo bought Izze Beverage to expand sales of the sparkling juice drinks. Healthy drinks usually cost $1.25 to $1.89 each whereas a can of soda typically costs about 80 cents.