Earnings Reports for Jan. 18

Retailer Sears, Roebuck reported today a 14 percent decrease in fourth-quarter operating earnings, topping Wall Street forecasts, as results were pinched by a slowing economy and higher costs.

Sears, the second-largest retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc., reported net income in the quarter ended Dec. 30, 2000, fell to $639 million, or $1.91 cents a diluted share, compared with $740 million, or $1.98 cents a diluted share.

Fourth-quarter 2000 earnings exclude charges to cover costs associated with the closing of 89 stores and the elimination of 2,400 jobs. With the items, net income was $442 million, or $1.32 per share.

Analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial had expected the retailer to report a fourth quarter profit of $1.86 a share.

Total revenues rose to $12.4 billion from $12.1 billion a year-ago. In the last year Sears shares have outperformed the S&P index of general merchandisers that includes rivals Wal-Mart and Target Corp. by about 25 percent.

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Sun Microsystems Bucks Trend With Solid Quarter

Sun Microsystems Inc. reported second-quarter sales that rose 44 percent and profits that met Wall Street expectations.

Sun, which resisted an industrywide trend to lower forecasts for this quarter in the face of economic weakness, said operating earnings, excluding one-time items, were $552 million, or 16 cents per share, after $354 million, or 10 cents per share, a year ago.

Sales at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm rose to $5.12 billion from $3.55 billion in the quarter a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected Sun to turn in operating profits of 16 cents per share on sales of $5.29 billion, First Call/Thomson Financial research reported.

The company's high-end computers, which run the networks of so called bricks-and-mortar companies and dot-coms alike, have seen continued demand even as retail consumer personal computer sales flagged.

But investors are watching Sun and its competitors this earnings period for indications of how cautious major companies will be building out new technology infrastructure in the face of an economic slowdown.

"Going forward, we have not changed our message regarding our intention to invest aggressively for market share while, at the same time, delivering on our commitment to generating competitive earnings for our shareholders," Sun's Chief Financial Officer Michael Lehman said in a statement.

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UAL Posts Narrower than Expected Loss

UAL, parent of United Airlines, the world's largest airline, said today it lost $124 million in the fourth quarter as sharply higher fuel and labor costs reversed its year-ago profit, and it forecast a loss for the current quarter.

The loss was somewhat less than analysts had expected. Chicago-based UAL, whose bid to buy No. 6 U.S. airline US Airways Group Inc. is pending regulatory approval, lost $2.41 a share. It reported a profit of $100 million, or 59 cents a share, in the fourth quarter a year earlier. The figures exclude special items.

Analysts had on average expected the company to lose $3.84 a share in the quarter, according to First Call/Thomson Financial.

Revenue rose 6.9 percent, to $4.79 billion, from $4.48 billion a year earlier.

Bookings for the first quarter of 2001 "appear favorable" in comparison with the quarter a year earlier, but higher fuel and labor costs are likely to result in a loss for the period, UAL said. For the full year, UAL expects to post "a modest profit." BACK TO TOP

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