Business briefs 7/27/06

Thursday, July 27, 2006

GM scores profit after charges factored out

DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. lost $3.2 billion in the second quarter because of heavy charges for layoffs and early retirements -- part of its massive restructuring program. But, without those charges, the world's largest automaker scored a profit that blew Wall Street away and bolstered management's claim that the turnaround is working. GM shares rose $1.34, or 4.4 percent, to close at $32 on the New York Stock Exchange. They have traded in a 52-week range of $18.33 to $37.57. Without one-time items, GM said it earned $1.2 billion, or $2.03 per share. That was significantly ahead of the 55 cents per share forecast in a survey of Thomson Financial analysts.

ConocoPhillips profits up by nearly two-thirds

HOUSTON -- ConocoPhillips pumped more oil and gas and commanded sharply higher prices for its energy in the second quarter, boosting profits by nearly two-thirds to more than $5 billion. Its acquisition of Burlington Resources in March appears to have paid off, too, accounting for more than a quarter of the earnings growth in its exploration and production business. ConocoPhillips, which announced its results Wednesday, far surpassed Wall Street's expectations and its shares climbed close to 2 percent. The nation's third-largest oil company earned $5.18 billion in the April-June quarter -- a 65 percent increase from the $3.14 billion profit during the same period a year earlier. Revenue only rose 12.6 percent, to $47.1 billion.

Fed: Inflation moderate, growth slower

WASHINGTON -- The economy logged decent but slower growth in the early summer as some consumers tightened their belts. Despite high energy prices, overall inflation remained fairly moderate. That snapshot of America's business climate emerged Wednesday from the Federal Reserve Board's latest survey of economic conditions. All 12 Fed districts generally indicated continued economic growth during June through the middle of July. Still, there were "numerous individual reports pointing to evidence that the pace of growth has slowed," the survey said. Most districts reported that consumers, a major force in shaping economic activity, had less of an appetite to spend. That resulted in weaker sales for merchants. In some cases, high gas prices were blamed for squeezing household budgets and forcing some people to spend less or cut back on shopping.

Boeing posts first loss in three years

CHICAGO -- Steep costs to settle a government investigation and pay for delays to an airborne surveillance system sent Boeing Co. to its first quarterly loss in three years. Boeing strengthened the outlook for its resurgent commercial airplane business at the same time it announced the $160 million second-quarter deficit Wednesday. But it also reduced its 2006 earnings guidance, and its stock fell. While the $1.07 billion in charges were expected, Wall Street showed disappointment that the aerospace company chose not to write off any of its Justice Department settlement and increased its 2007 outlook less than many anticipated. Boeing shares closed down $3.85, or 4.6 percent, to $79.90 on the New York Stock Exchange after sinking as much as 5 percent in the wake of the report.

-- From wire reports

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