General Motors' chief financial officer Daniel Ammann indicated in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Monday that the world' top-selling automaker will strive to boost its profit margins to 10 percent over the next few years, compared to its 2011 profit margin of 6 percent. If the Detroit-based carmaker is successful, the higher margins would translate to about $15 billion in profits, based on GM's 2011 revenue of $150 billion.
Caterpillar, the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, issued its fourth-quarter results Thursday, providing a boost to the Dow Jones stock index as its earnings and revenue blew past Wall Street expectations. Considered a strong indicator of global economic and credit conditions, Caterpillar sells its equipment all over the world, and generally performs well when economic conditions are favorable and suffers during global recessions.
Bank of America issued its fourth-quarter results Thursday, posting a profit after taking a loss in 2010's final three months thanks to a series of one-time gains. The Charlotte, North Carolina banking giant said it earned $2 billion, or 15 cents a share, in the three months ended December 30th, a vast improvement from its net loss of $1.2 billion in the same period a year ago. The results, which matched the expectations of analysts, included a $2.9 billion profit from the sale of a stake in China Construction Bank. The bank also benefited from a $1.2 billion gain during the quarter related to the swapping of preferred shares for common stock.
JP Morgan Chase, the biggest US bank by assets, issued its fourth-quarter results Friday, posting a 23 percent decline in profits. The bank cited declines in revenue from trading and investment banking fees as the chief causes of the poor results, which also came in below Wall Street estimates. Shares of the company slid nearly 4 percent on the news as of 1 PM ET.
Philips Electronics warned investors Tuesday its fourth quarter earnings may be depressed because of weakness in European consumer spending that is leading to charges for inventory it cannot move. The EU's largest manufacturer of electronics, Philips said its earnings should come in at between 500 million euros, well below its 4Q 2010 earnings of 910 million euros. The company also noted that its earnings report, which it will release at the end of the month, would show slowing sales in several of its biggest divisions in addition to the charges for products sitting in its warehouses.
Walgreen Company issued its fiscal first-quarter earnings Wednesday, posting a 4.5 percent decline in net income due to higher costs. The company also announced it has been unsuccessful in securing a new deal with Express Scripts Inc, meaning the drugstore chain will likely lose sales next year as Express Scripts' customers are forced to go elsewhere for their prescription drugs. Investors reacted to the report, sending shares down more than 6 percent in the first few minutes of trading.
Hormel Foods issued its fiscal fourth-quarter results Tuesday, posting a slight decline in profit due to higher costs for raw ingredients and weaker sales hurt the Austin, Minnesota-based company's bottom line. Like other food manufacturers, Hormel has been struggling for the last few quarters with higher costs, unable to completely pass those costs on to consumers as the economy has shoppers keeping a tight rein on their budgets.
Tyson Foods issued its fiscal fourth-quarter results Monday, posting a 54 percent decline in profits from the same period in 2010 as the world's largest meat producer dealt with higher grain prices that offset its price increases and higher revenue. The company's chicken business was particularly affected, with operating income falling from a profit of $141 million in the year-ago period to an operating loss of $82 million in the most recent quarter. The company expects results to improve moving forward, however, as an expected decline in chicken supplies will allow the company to raise prices and increase profit.
General Motors reported its third-quarter results Wednesday, posting a 15 percent decline in net income almost a year after its shares began trading on the stock market. The report represents the Detroit-based automakers seventh consecutive quarterly profit since recovering from a near bankruptcy with the help of taxpayer bailout, but the company indicated it will need to make some serious cost-cutting moves to ensure its long-term success.
MasterCard Inc issued its third-quarter results Wednesday, posting profits that easily topped Wall Street estimates as the company benefited from strong growth in credit card spending. The world's second-largest payment processor behind only VISA is pushing to eat away at the market share of its bigger rival. That goal may be helped, insiders say, by new regulations governing transaction fees processors charge to merchants as the rules also give merchants more leeway in how those transactions are routed.