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Wal-Mart, Home Depot increase second-quarter profit

Wednesday, August 18, 2010; A09

EARNINGS

Wal-Mart profit rises on foreign growth

Wal-Mart Stores reported a 3.6 percent increase in second-quarter net income, earning $3.59 billion thanks to cost-cutting and robust growth in China, Brazil and Mexico. The retailer raised its earnings guidance for the full year.

Sales overall increased almost 3 percent, to $103.7 billion, but a closely watched measure of revenue -- that of stores open at least a year -- fell for the fifth consecutive quarter. The 1.4 percent decrease was led by its U.S. division, where its main customers remain squeezed by high unemployment and tight credit.

The profit results slightly surpassed analyst expectations, but the revenue figure fell short, and the company said that even steep U.S. discounts failed to lift sales. Wal-Mart's international business, which accounts for nearly a quarter of its revenue, rose almost 16 percent, to $25.9 billion.

-- Associated Press

Home Depot makes gains, cuts sales outlook

A modest increase in revenue helped Home Depot boost its net income to $1.19 billion for the second quarter, a 7 percent rise, though the hot weather and economic uncertainty made gardeners and builders hold back on purchases, the company said Tuesday. Revenue rose 2 percent, to $19.41 billion, but the retailer lowered its sales forecast for the year, and the quarterly results fell below analyst expectations.

Revenue at stores open at least one year, a key reading of retailers' performance, rose 1.7 percent worldwide and 1 percent in the United States.

The best-performing categories were lumber, electrical, lighting, plumbing, paint and hardware.

-- Associated Press

ALSO IN BUSINESS

-- SEC unit chief to depart: The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday that Andrew Donohue, who leads the unit that oversees U.S. investment managers, will leave the agency in November. Donohue, 59, helped the SEC craft new rules to monitor investment managers in response to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, and rules to make money-market funds boost their asset holdings.

Donohue is the only SEC division head whose tenure preceded Mary Schapiro's arrival as chairman last year. He joined the SEC from Merrill Lynch, where he was general counsel of the firm's money-management business.

-- GM recalls 243,000 vehicles: General Motors is recalling 243,403 vehicles worldwide to inspect second-row seat belts that could be damaged and not latch.

The automaker said Tuesday that the recall affects 2009-10 models of the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook, most in North America. GM said the seat-belt buckle could be damaged when the seat back is returned to an upright position. That could make the buckle appear to latch when it has not.

GM said it did not know of any cases where the seat belts failed to perform properly in a crash.

-- Mazda steering problems lead to recall: Mazda Motor is recalling 215,000 Mazda3 and Mazda5 vehicles to fix loss-of-power problems with the steering system, which could complicate driving and lead to a crash.

The Japanese automaker told the U.S. government the recall involved model year 2007-09 models built from April 2007 through November 2008.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has had 33 complaints alleging steering problems, including three crashes. The government had begun its probe in June.

-- From news services

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