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James Dicks Daily Digest - February 19, 2009

The Labor Department reported that the number of people receiving regular unemployment benefits rose 170,000 to 4.99 million for the week ending Feb. 7th, marking the fourth straight week those receiving benefits have been at a record level on data going back to 1967.

The Labor Department reported that wholesale prices increased by 0.8 percent last month, the biggest gain since last July and well above the 0.2 percent increase that economists had expected. The increase was led by a 3.7 percent surge in energy prices with gasoline prices jumping by 15 percent, the biggest gain in 14 months.

The Conference Board says its January index of leading economic indicators rose 0.4 percent. Economists expected no change in the index, which forecasts economic activity for the next three to six months based on 10 economic components, including stock prices, building permits and initial claims for unemployment benefits.

Factories in the Philadelphia region reported declining business in February for the 14th month in the past 15. The Philly Fed index dropped to negative 41.3 in February from negative 24.3 in January. It's the lowest since October 1990.

Crude oil inventories excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fell by 200,000 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 13th. Most analysts had expected a buildup of about 2 million to 4 million barrels.

Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan said it's critically important that banks and lending institutions "step up to the plate" to help make certain the Obama administration's new $75 billion home foreclosure initiative succeeds. The administration also announced an additional $200 billion in government assistance to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest makers of home mortgages in America.

Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) is adding nonstop flights between Salt Lake City and eight new cities, starting June 4th. Delta said the new flights build on last year's recent acquisition of Northwest Airlines.

Scheduled U.S. Economic Reports (Friday)

Consumer Price Index (Jan)

In Earnings News

Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), the nation's third-largest wireless carrier, reported a $1.6 billion fourth-quarter loss as it wrote off the remaining value of its 2005 purchase of Nextel Communications Inc. Revenue fell 14 percent to $8.4 billion from $9.8 billion. Analysts expected $8.55 billion.

CVS Caremark Corp (CVS) earned $949.3 million, or 65 cents per share, up from $811.2 million, or 55 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts expected 69 cents per share.

Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM), the world's second largest gold producer, returned to profitability in the fourth quarter as rising gold prices offset a sharp drop in copper demand. The company said it earned $10 million, or 2 cents per share.

Hormel Foods (HRL), the maker of Spam and other food products, said that its fiscal first-quarter profit fell 8 percent. The company earned $81.4 million, or 60 cents per share. Analysts expected 51 cents.

E.W. Scripps Co. (SNI) (SSP) posted a loss for the fourth quarter Thursday as it plans to cut salaries and benefits amid an industry wide advertising downturn. Scripps lost $19.4 million in the latest quarter, compared with earnings of $44.7 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) said its fourth-quarter profit edged up 1.7 percent. Noble earned $305 million, or $1.72 per share, in the last quarter of 2008. Analysts expected a lower profit of 79 cents per share.

Scheduled Earnings Reports (Friday)

JC Penney, Lowes Companies, Constellation Energy, Barrick Gold

Stocks in the News

CBS Corp (CBS) reported its fourth-quarter profit dropped 52% on advertising declines at its television, radio and outdoor display units.

Amerigroup (AGP) reported fourth-quarter net income rose 20% to $37.3 million, or 70 cents a share.

Whole Foods Market (WFMI) reported net income fell 17% from the year-earlier quarter due to slowing store traffic and legal costs.

O’Reilly Automotive Inc (ORLY) reported that fourth-quarter net income rose 52% on 84% higher revenue.

Regal Entertainment Group (RGC) said its fourth-quarter profit climbed 30 percent helped by increased admissions and concessions revenue.

Barnes Group Inc (B) reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $10 million, or 19 cents a share.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) reported a fiscal first-quarter profit of $1.9 billion, or 75 cents a share.

Expedia Inc. (EXPE) reported a fourth-quarter loss of $2.76 billion.

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