Business briefs 1/31/07

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

P&G, Colgate post double-digit earnings

CINCINNATI -- Boosted by new products from familiar brands and growth in emerging markets, consumer products makers Procter & Gamble Co. and Colgate-Palmolive Co. posted double-digit quarterly earnings increases Tuesday and offered bright outlooks. Colgate-Palmolive, the New York-based maker of toothpaste, soaps and Science Diet pet food, said fourth-quarter profit rose 11 percent as revenue increased across divisions. Cincinnati-based P&G said its profit jumped 12 percent in the second quarter of its fiscal year.

Merck and Wyeth earnings go down

TRENTON, N.J. -- Shares of drug manufacturers Wyeth and Merck & Co. took a hit Tuesday after disappointing earnings reports, but for different reasons: Wyeth missed analysts' expectations by a wide margin, while Merck's profit plunged due to ongoing legal and restructuring costs. Merck surprised some analysts by boosting its reserve for litigation over withdrawn painkiller Vioxx for a second straight quarter. That charge and others cut Merck's fourth-quarter profit by 58 percent despite higher revenue. Shares fell 60 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $44.91 with nearly double normal trading volume. Wyeth shares fell $1.24, or 2.5 percent, to $49.36, also on the New York Stock Exchange, as the Madison, N.J.-based company boosted quarterly profit by 17 percent but came in a nickel below analysts' consensus of 71 cents in earnings per share.

UPS profits up, but stock price dips

ATLANTA -- UPS Inc., the world's largest shipping carrier, said Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit increased 7.5 percent on a 5.6 percent gain in sales. The results, announced before the market opened, were in line with Wall Street expectations. But shares of UPS fell 95 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $72.70 on the New York Stock Exchange. The Atlanta-based company said that for the three months ending Dec. 31, it earned $1.13 billion, or $1.04 a share, compared with a profit of $1.05 billion, or 95 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.

Business sale boosts earnings for 3M

MINNEAPOLIS -- 3M Co., which makes Scotch tape, Post-it notes and weather-stripping, reported that fourth-quarter earnings rose 58 percent largely because of a gain on the sale of part of its pharmaceutical business. But the results without the gain and its guidance for next year missed analyst expectations. The company earned $1.18 billion, or $1.57 per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $746 million, or 97 cents per share, during the same period last year.

Costs of PlayStation 3 negate Sony recovery

TOKYO -- Sony's quarterly profit dipped 5 percent as huge costs for launching its PlayStation 3 video game console offset a recovery in its electronics business. But in an optimistic sign, the Japanese manufacturer raised its full-year earnings forecast Tuesday, saying that booming Christmas sales in digital cameras and flat-panel TVs outpaced earlier targets. Group net profit at Sony Corp. for the three months through December slipped to 159.9 billion yen ($1.3 billion) from 168.9 billion yen the same period a year earlier.

Burger King profits up by whopping 41 percent

MIAMI -- Burger King Holdings Inc., the world's second-largest burger chain, said Tuesday its fiscal second-quarter profit jumped 41 percent on solid same-store sales and income from new restaurants, as the company continues to revitalize its brand through aggressive marketing and expansion. The chain also announced its first quarterly dividend since it went public May 18. The dividend payment of 6.25 cents per share will be paid March 15 to shareholders. Net income rose to $38 million, or 28 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31 compared with $27 million, or 24 cents per share, a year ago.

-- From wire reports

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