Earnings: Lowe's, Hormel, Cablevision

Earnings: Lowe's | Hormel | Cablevision

Lowe's Reports 37% Rise In Profit

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Lowe's Cos. Inc. (LOW), the second-largest home improvement retailer, Monday reported a 37 percent rise in quarterly profit, markedly topping estimates, aided by installations and special-order sales.

The company also forecast profit above Wall Street expectations for the current quarter and fiscal year.

Net income came to $695 million, or 87 cents a share, for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, compared with $508 million, or 64 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts on average expected 80 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales were up 26 percent to $10.8 billion, while sales at stores open at least a year gained 7.8 percent. Lowe's, whose growth is being fueled by expansion to big U.S. cities, opened 63 new stores in the fourth quarter.

In a statement, the Mooresville, North Carolina, company said installations, special orders and commercial business initiatives were key drivers of the strong results.

Lowe's, which ranks behind industry leader Home Depot Inc. (HD), forecast per-share earnings of 92 cents to 94 cents for the first quarter and $4.03 to $4.13 for the fiscal year. Analysts currently expect 88 cents for the quarter and $3.98 for the year, according to Reuters Estimates.

For the second quarter, Lowe's said it expected profit of $1.22 to $1.25 a share, roughly in line with analyst expectations of $1.24.

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Hormel Profits Rise

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL) Monday posted a 7 percent rise in quarterly profit as strength in its Jennie-O turkey business helped make up for steep energy and freight costs.

The company, whose products range from Spam processed pork to Dinty Moore canned stew, forecast profit for the rest of the year that was in line with analysts' expectations.

Hormel posted net income of $69.3 million, or 50 cents per share, for the first quarter ended on Jan. 29, up from $64.6 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average forecast 48 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates. On Nov. 23, the company forecast earnings of 44 cents to 50 cents a share for the quarter, including 4 cents a share in stock options expense.

Quarterly sales rose to $1.4 billion from $1.3 billion a year earlier, with the specialty and refrigerated food divisions posting big increases.

The Jennie-O division, which accounts for about 19 percent of sales but nearly one-third of total operating profit, had a strong quarter with operating profit up 17 percent as it sold more value-added products such as frozen turkey burgers.

Looking ahead, the company said it expects lower pork markets to help its refrigerated foods business, but higher beef, freight and energy costs will likely weigh on profits.

Hormel forecast second-quarter earnings per share in the range of 42 cents to 48 cents, and full-year profit between $1.90 and $2.00 per share.

Analysts, on average, expected second-quarter earnings of 45 cents per share, with full-year earnings of about $1.94 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Cablevision Posts Profit After Last Year's Loss

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) Monday posted a quarterly profit versus a year-earlier loss, when it took a charge from a failed satellite business, and reported better-than-expected subscriber growth to its video, high-speed Internet and digital phone services.

The cable television operator, whose shares rose as much as 6.7 percent, also said it expects subscriptions to its basic cable service to be among the fastest growing in the industry.

Net subscriber additions for its cable, Internet and phone services "were all above our estimates," said Oppenheimer analyst Tom Eagan in a research note. He added that its target of basic subscriber growth of 2 percent to 2.5 percent was higher than his estimate of 0.4 percent.

Cable companies are betting that their bundles of video, Internet and phone service will lure customers from satellite TV companies, such as DirecTV Group Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network and phone companies.

Cablevision's systems are in the New York metropolitan area, which analysts believe have some of the most valuable subscribers in the country.

The company posted a fourth-quarter profit of $54.1 million, or 19 cents per share, compared with a loss of $305.8 million, or $1.06 per share, a year earlier, when it took a charge of $166.3 million to write down the value of its abandoned satellite business.

Revenue rose 12.5 percent to $1.49 billion, beating the average Wall Street estimate of $1.46 billion.

The company expects to add 1 million to 1.25 million subscribers to its advanced services by the end of 2006.

It expects revenue and adjusted operating cash flow to rise in the mid-teens in percentage terms for the cable TV division. It also sees capital expenditures on cable TV in the range of $650 million to $700 million.

The company's fourth-quarter basic subscriber base rose 2.2 percent to 3 million subscribers. It added 119,500 digital cable subscribers, nearly 94,000 high-speed Internet subscribers and 130,000 phone customers during the quarter.

Churn, the rate that customers drop service, fell in both video and Internet from a year ago. Average monthly revenue per customer was $100.46, up about 4 percent from the third quarter and nearly 14 percent from a year earlier.

The Bethpage, New York, company, which also owns the New York Rangers professional hockey team and the New York Knicks pro basketball team, said in January its directors are expected to consider paying a special dividend after canceling a $3 billion dividend last year.

Oppenheimer's Eagan called a cash dividend "an imprudent choice" because of the impact it would have on the company's debt levels.

Shares rose $1.32, or 5.2 percent, to $26.50 on the New York Stock Exchange, after touching as high as $26.90 earlier in the session, its highest level since October.

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