November 18, 2017

PepsiCo Profit Climbs Despite Weakness in Soft Drinks

In addition, the company, which makes Pepsi-Cola, Frito-Lay snacks and Tropicana juices, cited a lower tax rate and a $137 million gain related to refranchising its bottling operations in Vietnam.

A J. P. Morgan analyst, John Faucher, said those issues made the results look better than they were.

“The headline is much better than the net result,” Mr. Faucher said.

The smaller soft-drink company Dr Pepper Snapple Group also released results on Wednesday, saying profit fell on weak sales volume.

A week ago, Coca-Cola reported disappointing sales, blaming poor weather. Nelson Peltz, an activist shareholder, said that PepsiCo should buy Mondelez International, maker of Oreo cookies, and split off its soft-drink business.

Despite the numbers, PepsiCo stood by its outlook for 2013, which calls for earnings growth of 7 percent.

Net income was $2.01 billion, or $1.28 a share in PepsiCo’s second quarter, up from $1.49 billion, or 94 cents a share a year earlier.

Excluding items like restructuring and integration charges, earnings were $1.31 a share. On that basis, analysts on average were expecting $1.19 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Net revenue rose 2 percent, to $16.81 billion, topping analysts’ estimate of $16.79 billion.

On the food side, volume in the Americas rose 2 percent. In Latin America, it gained 1 percent, while in North America, it rose 3 percent for Frito-Lay and 1 percent for Quaker Foods. Snack volume increased 3 percent in Europe and 6 percent in the Asia, Middle East and Africa segment.

On the more challenged drinks division, volume in the Americas fell 3.5 percent, was flat in Europe and rose 9 percent in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/25/business/pepsico-profit-climbs-despite-weakness-in-soft-drinks.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: As Citigroup’s Profit Surges, Skittish Borrowers Hurt the Consumer Unit

A Citibank branch in New York.Keith Bedford/ReutersA Citibank branch in New York.

8:34 p.m. | Updated

Citigroup beat earnings expectations on Monday as net income surged by 30 percent in the first quarter of 2013. But beneath the banner results, the bank is grappling with a sluggish economy and skittish American consumers who are still wary of shouldering fresh debt.

The bank, which has been aggressively working to slash costs and slog through a glut of soured assets, reported a profit of $3.8 billion, or $1.23 a share, for the first quarter. Revenue rose by 3 percent to $20.5 billion.

Still, Citigroup’s results were dampened by largely stagnant revenue growth in the consumer banking unit and persistent difficulties in Asia and Latin America. One challenge: the United States consumer.

Borrowers are still unwilling to take on new loans, even with interest rates hovering at near-record lows.

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“I don’t think we’ve got a real strong consumer driving the economy,” John Gerspach, the bank’s chief financial officer said on a conference call on Monday. He added that “we are seeing a certain amount of deleveraging.”

For Stephanie Sanyour, 25, “deleveraging” felt like a tremendous relief. Ms. Sanyour, a television producer who lives in Des Moines, said she had devoted an entire paycheck this month to wiping out her debt on a Citigroup credit card. While the monthly payments were manageable, she said that the debt felt like a “chain on my ankles limiting my flexibility.”

Across the nation, banking analysts say, consumers like Ms. Sanyour are working to pay off their bills and stay out of debt. Such a tepid appetite for loans underpinned Citigroup’s results on Monday. While total loans inched up slightly in the first quarter to $539 billion, the bulk of the growth stemmed from demand among corporate clients beyond the United States. Consumer lending rose just 1 percent in the first quarter. In North America, revenue in the global banking unit stagnated, falling by 1 percent to $5.1 billion.

“The environment remains challenging and we are sure to be tested as we go through the year,” Michael L. Corbat, the bank’s chief executive, said in the earnings release.

Citigroup’s quarterly earnings underscore broader challenges buffeting the United States banking industry. On Friday, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo reported declines in revenue, slowed in part by mortgage machines that are beginning to sputter. The refinancing boom, fed by federal largess that drove down interest rates and spurred a flurry of refinancings, is showing signs of petering out.

Combined with Citi’s earnings Monday, the results are propelling worries that banks are floundering to offset income sapped by a spate of new financial regulations and a lackluster economy. Sluggish loan demand is renewing those concerns. Jamie Dimon, the influential chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan, called loan growth “soft” for the quarter when the bank reported earnings on Friday.

Beyond the banking results, other indicators of economic health have proved dispiriting as well. Retail sales in the United States fell by 0.4 percent in March. Even though unemployment is falling, consumers remain unconvinced.

Part of the wariness among consumers, banking analysts say, arises from broad skepticism about the housing market. Even though housing prices have been rising recently, the improvements won’t rouse consumers until they remain steadily high for a longer stretch, according to analysts. “If housing prices start to stall even a little bit, then we are going to see an even greater retreat from consumers,” said J. J. Kinahan, a strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Even bank executives are skeptical about the housing market in the United States. “I wouldn’t say I am positive about the housing market,” Mr. Gerspach said.

Citigroup has pinned some of its hope for future profitability on its vast international footprint, but some regions produced lackluster returns. Revenue from consumer banking in Asia fell in the first quarter to $2 billion, down 1 percent from the same period a year earlier. The bank is struggling to navigate the shifting regulatory landscape in Asia. In South Korea, for example, national officials placed a cap on the interest rates of a range of consumer loans. Mr. Gerspach said that there were “still headwinds” in the region.

Despite the challenges, Citigroup showed strengths in other parts of its business. A bright spot in the first quarter was the securities and banking group, which was bolstered by strong gains in investment banking, fixed income and equities.

Revenue in that unit surged 31 percent, to $6.98 billion, while net income was $2.3 billion, up 81 percent from the period a year earlier. For Citigroup, the unit has been a consistent focus. Mr. Gerspach reiterated that on Monday, saying the bank continued to make “steady progress” in its share of a “client’s wallet.”

Much of the gains in securities and banking came from Citigroup’s investment banking unit, which was buoyed by increases in debt and equity underwriting. The unit’s revenue increased to $1.1 billion, up 22 percent from the period a year earlier.

Over all, investors seemed pleased with the quarterly results. Citigroup’s stock rose 9 cents to $44.87 on Monday, after trading in the morning above $46, on a day when there was wide selling in the stock market.

The quarterly report is the second under the leadership of Mr. Corbat, who took over after the abrupt ouster of Vikram S. Pandit. In October, Michael E. O’Neill, the bank’s forceful chairman, pushed Mr. Pandit out in favor of Mr. Corbat.

Mr. Corbat has vowed to continue reorienting the bank toward its core business while shedding less-profitable units. That cost-cutting began under Mr. Pandit, who helped return the bank to profitability after presiding over a turbulent chapter in its history when Citi received a $45 billion federal lifeline.

Citigroup has been aggressively whittling down a morass of soured loans and cutting less-profitable business lines to reduce costs. In December, it said it would eliminate 11,000 jobs worldwide. Within its Citi Holdings unit, Citigroup reduced assets by $60 billion in the first quarter.

Citigroup continues to be haunted by its mortgage woes. Last month, it agreed to pay $730 million to settle claims that it had persuaded investors to buy securities backed by shaky mortgage loans. The bank did not admit any wrongdoing. Cautioning investors on Monday, Mr. Gerspach said that legal expenses remained “volatile.”


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 15, 2013

An earlier version of this article misstated Citigroup’s revenue performance in North America. Revenue fell to $5.1 billion from the period a year earlier, it didn’t increase.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/citigroups-earnings-rose-30-in-first-quarter/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Monsanto Profit Balloons on Latin American Sales

WASHINGTON (AP) — Agricultural products giant Monsanto reported Tuesday that its profit nearly tripled in the first fiscal quarter as sales of its biotech corn seeds expanded in Latin America.

The company raised its earnings guidance for the year, briefly lifting its shares to its highest level in more than four years.

The company’s sales grew 21 percent to $2.9 billion in the quarter, with most of increase coming from the company’s corn seed business.

The St. Louis company earned $339 million, or 63 cents per share in the three months ended November 30. That compares to earnings of $126 million, or 23 cents per share, in last year’s quarter.

Monsanto’s results easily trumped analyst predictions of 36 cents per share on sales of $2.6 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

The company’s first fiscal period is usually not very profitable, as farming operations slow during the fall months in the U.S. and Europe. But increased sales in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American countries helped drive earnings from September through November.

Monsanto told investors last year that it expects to benefit more from the growing season in the Southern hemisphere. Monsanto predicts that international sales will account for half of its growth in seeds for fiscal 2013, which ends in August.

Sales of the company’s largest unit, seeds and genomics, grew 27 percent to $1.1 billion, on demand from farmers in Brazil and Argentina.

Monsanto’s corn and soybean seeds have genetically engineered traits meant to produce more crops and repel bugs. The company says these benefit farmers enough that they come out ahead, even though the seeds cost more than conventional seeds.

For all of fiscal 2013, the company expects profit of $4.30 to $4.40 per share.

Analysts predicted profit of $4.39 per share.

Shares added $2.39, or 2.5 percent, to $98.33 in midday trading Tuesday after rising as high as $99.99 earlier in the session. That was the highest price for Monsanto shares since October 2008.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/01/08/business/ap-us-earns-monsanto.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Mattel to Give Thomas the Tank Engine a Multimillion-Dollar Sheen

Will parents get on board?

Mattel agreed last year to pay a hefty $680 million for Hit Entertainment, the British owner of Thomas, a cheery blue locomotive first introduced in a 1946 book. Starting in January, the toy manufacturer hopes to turn the talking train and his friends — Butch the Tow Truck, Engine Emily — into a property on par with Hot Wheels and Barbie.

“It’s been a brand that has been pretty bereft of investment,” said David Allmark, executive vice president of Mattel’s Fisher-Price brands. “We really believe that we can grow this on a worldwide basis, particularly in Latin America and Asia.”

Thomas is huge, with global retail sales totaling about $1 billion annually, according to analysts. Barbie has estimated annual worldwide sales of $2 billion, while Hot Wheels is closer to $1 billion. Hot Wheels, however, has stronger brand recognition in North America than Thomas and is a better seller in the toy aisle. “An established brand like Thomas helps Mattel, which has historically been stronger with girls than boys, in the extraordinarily competitive preschool market,” said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president for industry relations and information at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association. “It is much more expensive and tenuous to try and create a franchise from scratch.”

Still, expansion of the Thomas franchise in Europe and North America could be difficult because of gender and age constraints. Analysts say the character appeals to both boys and girls from ages 1 to 3, but then girls tend to split off into dolls and dress up; boys stick around until about age 5, then lean toward more complicated toys and stories.

The effort to reposition Thomas includes new toys, in particular an expanded and enhanced line of wooden trains, and a new one-hour animated movie called “King of the Railway,” which will be released in the spring on DVD by Lionsgate and supported with “blue carpet” premieres in the United States and Europe. Mattel will also produce at least three more seasons of the “Thomas Friends” television series, shown on PBS and Sprout.

Mr. Allmark said the chubby-cheeked Thomas, which was created by a British clergyman named Wilbert Awdry while trying to soothe his son, Christopher, who was sick with the measles, will continue to espouse “innocent, sweet life lessons.” But Mr. Allmark added that Mattel thinks a few minor changes — faster storytelling, for instance — can make the anthropomorphic train more relevant to modern children. “Some of it needs livening up a little bit,” he said.

Devotees who like Thomas for his simplicity may find those to be fighting words, but Mattel and its new Hit unit plan to back up their efforts with a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign called “Anytime Is Thomas Time.” Plans also call for a new online portal devoted to Thomas, more live events (look-alike trains steaming into cities across North America), and possibly a balloon in the next Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.

“When you are successful for as long as Thomas has been, you can become part of the woodwork,” said Shari Donnenfeld, head of Hit Global Brands. “We need to reinforce the brand by reminding people why they love it and introducing new content.”

Besides Mattel, multiple entertainment companies, including Walt Disney, weighed Hit’s prospects but passed, deciding that Thomas came with too many downsides, given the asking price. TV episodes and movies are expensive to produce, for instance, and DVDs do not sell the way they used to.

Mattel needed a preschool franchise to reinforce its Fisher-Price business, analysts say. Last year, the division lost an important Sesame Street license to a rival, Hasbro, and is coming off a few difficult years marked by recalls, including the removal from shelves of 10 million Fisher-Price toys in 2010. Last year, worldwide Fisher-Price sales totaled $2.16 billion, a 3 percent decline from a year earlier.

Mr. Allmark called Hit, which also owns characters like Barney, Angelina Ballerina and Bob the Builder, “a pretty rare diamond.”

Thomas has been a brand in flux in recent years. In 2009, Hit dropped the old-fashioned animation style that had been the TV program’s hallmark in favor of computer-generated images. The trains also began to speak on the televised show for the first time. The changes risked alienating some parents, but ratings in certain important demographics have increased 30 percent, according to Nielsen data.

Computerized animation has also allowed Hit to expand Thomas deeper into the digital realm; there are 15 related apps, and Mattel plans to introduce four more in the coming months.

Thomas faces challengers in the hotly competitive preschool market. Disney is planning an increased retail push tied to its “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” program. But retailers like Toys “R” Us note that Mattel and its Fisher-Price unit have the muscle to secure expanded shelf space for Thomas and his friends.

“Fisher-Price brings extraordinary product development, but they also have an unbelievable marketing machine,” said Richard Barry, chief merchandising officer for Toys “R” Us. He added, “Thomas is a brand that we absolutely love.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/business/media/mattel-to-give-thomas-the-tank-engine-a-multimillion-dollar-sheen.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Wealth Matters: Latin America, the Land of Opportunity and Caution

What happened? Can it be that Latin America is now a solid investment, as the middle class in many of the countries increasingly becomes a driving force? Or is the region’s cycle of booms and busts set to repeat itself?

Anyone who invested broadly in the region’s main stock indexes has had a bad year. Brazil’s index is down 16 percent, Mexico’s is down 5 percent and Chile’s is down about 16 percent. These numbers are worse for international investors because all three countries’ currencies have fallen against the dollar.

Not surprisingly, investors have been pulling their money out. As of Dec. 2 they had taken $9.8 billion out of Latin America, according to fund flow data compiled by Morgan Stanley research. (Emerging markets in general have not fared well this year, with investors taking out $36.6 billion.)

But, at the same time, companies as diverse as Siemens, General Electric, Nissan and Halliburton have increased their operations in Brazil.

China is Brazil’s major trading partner, which would seem to augur well. But it is selling commodities like iron ore, which could suffer if China’s growth continued to slow.

Yet Brazil also has a growing consumer sector. Sergio Cabral, the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, told me that almost 40 million people in Brazil had entered the middle class in the last five years. (Gerardo Zamorano, a director at Brandes Investment Partners, put that number at 25 million to 30 million, which is still a striking number given that Brazil had almost no middle class when I was there.) And Governor Cabral said that demand for all types of consumer goods was far outstripping supply in his state.

“Prices are crazy,” he said on a visit to New York this week. “We need more hotels. We have a suite problem — we have demand but we need more supply.”

That is a good thing as long as inflation does not increase and erode the buying power of the new middle class. Inflation has historically been a huge problem in Brazil, running to triple digits in the 1980s and 1990s. Official estimates now put it at a comparatively low 6.5 percent.

What’s an investor to do, with so many contradictory measures? Here are some thoughts.

THE CHANGE Ten years ago this week, Jim O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, coined the term BRIC, elevating the profile of four countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — that he thought were poised to become “growth economies.” He argued at the time that these countries contributed 8 percent of global gross domestic product and that in 10 years, their economies would account for about 14 percent. They’re now at 18 to 19 percent.

Mr. O’Neill said this week that he was surprised at how well Brazil had done, overtaking Italy to become the seventh-largest economy in the world.

“I found it really easy to be bullish about Brazil over the past decade,” he said. “I describe myself now as being a little bit more reserved. The biggest risk is if inflation were to get out of hand. There is no way you’re going to get the continued increases among the middle class if that happens.”

By Brazilian standards, he noted, inflation is low. Even if some analysts think it is above the 6.5 percent target rate, the central bank cut interest rates on Wednesday for the third time this year, a sign it is not concerned about inflation.

Francisco Alzuru, managing director of emerging market research at Hansberger Global Investors, said countries like Brazil and Mexico had reduced their debt-to-G.D.P. ratios significantly in the last decade, to levels better than in the developed world. And both countries, he said, had learned hard lessons from the crises of the 1990s that drove down the value of their currencies and pushed up the cost of borrowing.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=c4a8a65db012598d2a4c49eff5025021

Whirlpool to Cut 5,000 Jobs to Reduce Costs

The world’s biggest appliance maker also on Friday cut its 2011 earnings outlook drastically and reported third-quarter results that missed expectations, hurt by higher costs and a slowdown in emerging markets. Shares fell 12 percent in midday trading.

The company, whose brands include Maytag and KitchenAid, has, like other appliance makers, been squeezed by soft U.S. demand since the recession and rising costs for materials such as steel and copper. Due to its size, Whirlpool’s performance provides a window on the economy because it indicates whether consumers are comfortable spending on big-ticket items.

Whirlpool has raised prices to combat higher costs, but demand for items like refrigerators and washing machines remains tight. Whirlpool is also facing discount pressure from competitors.

To offset slowing North American sales, Whirlpool has turned to emerging markets. But the company said Friday that sales have slowed there, too. The company revised its demand forecast globally. It now expects demand to decline 3 percent to 5 percent in North America, in 2011, down from a 1 percent to 2 percent prior decline forecast.

It expects flat demand in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, from prior expectations of a 1 percent to 2 percent rise in demand.

In Latin America, it now expects demand to be flat to up 5 percent, from prior expectations of a 5 percent to 10 percent increase. And in Asia it expects demand to rise 2 percent to 4 percent from earlier expectations of a 4 percent to 6 percent increase.

Steep costs and the dour global economy are affecting the entire appliance industry. Swedish appliance maker Electrolux said Friday that its third-quarter net income fell 39 percent and also cut its forecast for demand in North American and Europe for the year.

Whirlpool jobs to be cut are mostly in North America and Europe. They include 1,200 salaried positions and the closing of the company’s Fort Smith, Ark., plant.

The Fort Smith plant shutdown will affect 884 hourly workers and 90 salaried employees. An additional 800 workers were on layoff from the factory and on a recall list.

Whirlpool will also relocate dishwasher production from Neunkirchen, Germany, to Poland in January 2012.

The company expects the moves will save $400 million by the end of 2013. They’ll cost $500 million in restructuring costs however, which will be recorded over the next three years, including a $105 million charge in the fourth quarter, $280 million charge in 2012 and $115 million charge in 2013.

Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool’s third-quarter net income more than doubled to $177 million, or $2.27 per share, from $79 million, or $1.02 per share. Adjusted earnings of $2.35 per share fell short of analyst expectations for $2.73 per share.

Revenue rose 2 percent to $4.63 billion, short of expectations for $4.74 billion.

“Our results were negatively impacted by recessionary demand levels in developed countries, a slowdown in emerging markets and high levels of inflation in material costs,” CEO Jeff Fettig said.

Unit shipments fell in all regions except Asia, where they rose 4 percent.

In North America, revenue fell 2 percent to $2.4 billion, and in Latin America, revenue rose 8 percent to $1.2 billion.

The company now expects 2011 net income will be $4.75 to $5.25 per share. Its prior guidance was net income would be at the low end of a range between $7.25 and $8.25 per share.

Separately, Whirlpool has complained to authorities that some companies, including Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, have been selling appliances at less than fair value in the U.S., a practice known as dumping. Whirlpool said the Commerce Department issued a preliminary determination that the companies are violating international trade laws. The investigation is ongoing.

Whirlpool’s stock fell $7.19, or 11.9 percent, to $53.28 in midday trading. The stock has already sunk 32 percent this year.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=421d5e9769e754aed133cde430a04b93

Cell Firm in Mexico Fined $1 Billion

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s antitrust commission has fined a subsidiary of América Móvil 12 billion pesos, or $1 billion, the parent company announced.

The agency, the Federal Competition Commission of Mexico, said that the cellphone subsidiary, Telcel, had engaged in monopolistic practices associated with call terminations, América Móvil said in a filing with the Mexican stock exchange late Friday.

The company, controlled by the billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, said that it was studying the ruling and all options for appeal.

América Móvil is the largest provider of wireless service in Latin America, with 225 million subscribers. Its 2009 revenue totaled $30 billion.

Mr. Slim, named the richest man in the world by Fortune Magazine, is estimated to be worth $74 billion. His companies have come under various allegations of monopolistic practices in the past. Mr. Slim owns about 7 percent of the publicly traded shares of The New York Times Company.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=1e0711fc28adfd4a318e327c875e75fa

The Boss: Of Airlines and Aerobatics

My parents sent me to school in England, where I studied economic theory at the London School of Economics. I was heading for a career in economics before being attracted to aviation. While at graduate school, I used my savings to get my pilot’s license and soon developed a love of competitive aerobatics.

My first job after graduation was working at Miami International Airport as the assistant to Dick Judy, the aviation director. He was an exceptional boss who instilled in me the importance of independent thinking, of developing the talents of those around me and of always striving to improve.

In 1989, I joined British Airways, managing several different administrative areas for the company in North America. Within several years, I had reached a ceiling for someone with no experience managing a mainstream part of the business.

But to gain that experience, I needed to take a step back within the company, and a substantial pay cut. I decided to take the risk and took the job of country manager for British Airways in the Czech Republic. It seemed a terrifying decision at the time, but it worked out well. Business in the region turned around quickly for the airline, and I was rewarded with a promotion: running the larger Latin America and Caribbean divisions.

A senior executive at the company questioned my temperament to manage large groups of employees in a unionized environment. Proving him wrong became an important personal objective. I left British Airways to become president of Worldwide Flight Services, a company that provides services like cleaning and refueling planes and loading bags. It’s one of the less glamorous areas of aviation and one of the toughest.

In 2001 I joined Sabena, the Belgian airline, as part of a team charged with turning the business around. The company was not doing well financially, and we were in the process of restructuring it when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. Sabena could not withstand the travel recession that followed and closed its doors within a couple of months. Not all risks have rewards.

In 2002, I joined Hawaiian Airlines. Three months later, we filed for bankruptcy and began restructuring. We made money during the bankruptcy, allowing us to pay back our creditors and leaving us in good shape for the future. Since then, the company has done well and we are now expanding into Asia.

I’ve been able to live my dream of having a stimulating job in the industry that marries my love of aviation with my interest in travel. Everything I’ve learned has been because of mistakes I’ve made. You can’t be in aviation if you don’t have a certain appetite for risk and a love of competition. We live in a world where people are dissuaded from taking career risks, but where many talented people forgo great opportunities by being too conservative.

In my free time, I fly a Giles G-202, a carbon-fiber aerobatic airplane. It’s capable of the full range of extraordinary aerobatic maneuvers that have been developed in the last 30 years. My wife and family won’t fly with me when I’m doing acrobatics. Until this past summer, I could say that I’d never made any of my passengers ill. Then my nephew Trevor unceremoniously spoiled my perfect record — and the inside of my airplane.

As told to Patricia R. Olsen.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=bbf794c1d3595560bb80f140686703a5