In brief: Retail sales, profits exceed forecast
NEW YORK – Wealthier shoppers went on a buying binge in January and even middle-income Americans spent a little more, retailers said Thursday. Some chains reported their brightest monthly results in years.
The prospects for many stores’ fourth-quarter profit also brightened further. Macy’s, Gap Inc., Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. and others raised their outlooks Thursday, because they didn’t have to discount as heavily to sell what they ordered for the holiday season and their total sales rose.
Compared with a sharp drop last year in January sales at stores open at least a year, the strong performances offered a nice finish to the industry’s fiscal year, which typically ends in January.
The International Council of Shopping Centers’ preliminary index for retail sales overall rose 3 percent, compared with a 4.6 percent drop a year ago. The increase builds on a 3.6 percent rise in December and is well above the ICSC’s forecast for a 1 percent gain.
Southwest reports strong bookings
DALLAS – Last year Southwest Airlines’ revenue shrank for the first time ever. Now its CEO says it could rebound with record revenue in 2010.
Southwest reported Thursday that January traffic rose 7.1 percent from a year ago, and CEO Gary Kelly said the nation’s biggest discount airline had strong bookings for February and March.
If that trend holds, Southwest should finish 2010 with revenue much higher than last year. Kelly told an investors conference in New York “it can even surpass the revenues we had in 2008.”
Southwest sales peaked in 2008 at $11.02 billion. Six straight years of rising revenue ended in 2009 with a 6 percent drop in sales.
Kelly said his airline is taking customers away from other carriers. Traffic grew even as Southwest offered fewer flights. He gave some of the credit to Southwest’s heavily advertised bags-fly-free policy.
Teck gets OK to sell interest in dam
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Teck Resources Ltd. will sell a one-third interest in the Waneta Dam to BC Hydro for $825 million in Canadian funds, company officials announced Thursday.
The dam is located on the Pend Oreille River in British Columbia. The British Columbia Utilities Commission recently gave the regulatory OK for the sale to move forward.
Teck officials expect to finalize the sale within 10 business days.