Inflation concerns from Fed members sparked the worst one-day decline of 2013 yesterday. This morning’s underwhelming earnings reports aren’t helping matters much.
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) failed to wow investors with their fourth-quarter earnings. Those reports come on the heels of yesterday’s earnings misses by Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOLL) and BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP). No wonder markets are down again today, with the S&P 500 slipping 0.6% as of 11:15 a.m. eastern time.
Here’s more of the nitty-gritty about those recent earnings reports:
- Wal-Mart: Profits were good, up 8.6% from a year ago. But those were mostly a product of fewer expenses and lower taxes. However, same-store sales were flat. What’s driving the stock up 2.8% in early trading, though, is its new dividend of $1.88 per share – a whopping 18% increase from its current $1.59 payout.
- Chesapeake Energy: Strong revenue growth from the natural-gas giant, but expenses from a debt buyback pushes profits down 36% from the same quarter a year ago. Worse yet, Chesapeake expects natural-gas production to decline 7% this year. Excluding its debt repurchase, however, Chesapeake’s earnings of 26 cents per share outpaced analyst estimates of 14 cents a share. That’s why the stock is up a few ticks in trading today.
- BHP Billiton: The global mining giant’s earnings were so bad they forced CEO Marius Kloppers into retirement. Ok, not really. But Kloppers will step down in May. After the company’s profits plummeted 58% last quarter, it’s hard to blame him. Weak commodity prices were largely to blame. The profit drop has pushed BHP shares down 2.8% today.