May 14, 2008 in City

Discount retailers’ profits solid

From Wire Reports The Spokesman-Review

Solid first-quarter profits from discounters Wal-Mart and TJXshow that more Americans are hunting for bargains as they struggle to cover their monthly credit card payments and put food on the table and gas in the family car.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, posted a 6.9 percent increase in first-quarter profits, helped by improved customer service, better inventory control and strong international sales.

TJX Cos., which operates stores under the T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods names, said its first-quarter profits rose almost 20 percent, meeting analysts’ projections. But lower investment income and costs from European expansion left TJX’s profit margin slightly below the company’s expectations.

•The Air Force is expected this week to award either Lockheed Martin Corp. or Boeing Co. a contract worth about $1.8 billion to build eight next-generation global positioning satellites.

The deal could ultimately be worth more than $4 billion as the victor will be in a strong position to win two additional contracts for 24 satellites for the Pentagon’s new GPS III system, said Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant based in Virginia. The first GPS III satellites are scheduled for launch in 2014, with all 32 satellites in orbit by 2022. The military relies on GPS systems to perform operations critical to modern warfare.

•Billionaire investor Carl Icahn reportedly is snapping up Yahoostock in preparation for a possible attempt to replace the Internet company’s board after the directors turned down Microsoft‘s $47.5 billion takeover offer.

Icahn has bought as many as 50 million Yahoo shares, both CNBC and the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. That would give Icahn a 3.6 percent stake in the Internet pioneer.

The financier could spearhead a campaign to oust Yahoo’s 10 directors for not accepting Microsoft Corp.’s final offer of $33 per share.

Burger King said Tuesday it fired two employees following the disclosure that an executive secretly posted blogs slamming a farmworker advocacy group.

The Miami-based fast-food chain did not identify the individuals fired. It also said it is discontinuing use of a private investigation firm whose president allegedly posed as a student activist to infiltrate the farmworker group and its supporters.

Burger King is in a public relations feud with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers over how to improve wages and working conditions for Florida’s tomato pickers.

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