Business


Earnings Roundup: Safeway, Winnebago report gains

Safeway Inc.’s third-quarter profit climbed 12 percent to match analysts’ projections, the latest payoff from the grocer’s recent recipe of cutting labor costs while spending on store improvements to attract more shoppers.

The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company said Thursday that it earned $194.6 million, or 44 cents per share, during the three months ended Sept. 8. That compared with $173.5 million, or 39 cents per share, in the prior-year quarter.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $9.78 billion, lagging the average analyst estimate of $9.83 billion for the quarter.

Winnebago Industries Inc.’s fourth-quarter earnings surged 59 percent, a reflection of increased sales of its larger and higher-profit motor homes.

Its shares rose more than 7 percent in afternoon trading.

The manufacturer said Thursday it earned $14.8 million, or 49 cents a share, in the three months ended Aug. 25, up from $9.3 million, or 30 cents a share, a year ago.

Sales rose 15.7 percent to $237.7 million from $205.4 million a year ago.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings per share of 41 cents on sales of $223 million.

The chairman of Sallie Mae on Thursday said the student lender has received calls from investors possibly interested in stepping in if the company cannot salvage its imperiled $25 billion buyout.

The company also reported a third-quarter loss of $344 million. SLM Corp.’s quarterly loss, equivalent to 85 cents a share, compared with profit of $263 million, or 60 cents a share, in the third quarter of 2006.

The company blamed its weaker-than-expected quarterly results on trading losses and the impact of recent student loan legislation that cut federal subsidies to Sallie Mae and soured its would-be buyers on the transaction, which is now being fought in court.

While the dispute with an investor group led by private equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co. plays itself out, Sallie Mae has received interest from others.

Sallie Mae sued the investor group led by Flowers & Co. for attempting to back out of a $60-a-share offer for the company. The investors say student-loan legislation recently signed into law by President Bush, and weaker economic conditions, have made the price agreed upon in April unacceptable. A reduced cash offer of $50-a-share expired Tuesday.

PepsiCo Inc. said Thursday its third-quarter profit rose 17 percent on the strength of its international division and a one-time tax benefit.

Yet worries over rising commodity prices and consumer confidence going into next year led the company to sound a warning, and investors sent the share price down.

“With the shares up 8 percent in the last month and up 11 percent over the last three months, the strong results were not enough to maintain the shares’ upward trajectory without further upward revisions today,” Morgan Stanley analyst Bill Pecoriello told investors.

The company left its full-year earnings guidance of at least $3.35 a share in place.

The owner of the world’s second biggest soft drink company and the Frito-Lay snacks maker earned $1.74 billion, or $1.06 per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 8, up from $1.49 billion, or 89 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 11 percent to $10.17 billion from $9.13 billion last year.


 

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