Earnings: AutoZone | Liz Claiborne | Revlon | Smithfield

AutoZone Reports Higher Earnings

CHICAGO (Reuters) - AutoZone Inc., (AZO) the largest U.S. auto parts retailer, on Wednesday said quarterly earnings rose 3 percent as sales at stores open at least one year edged higher.

Net income rose to $97 million, or $1.25 per share, for its fiscal second quarter ended Feb. 11, from $94.1 million, or $1.16 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding options expensing, AutoZone earned $1.29 per share.

Analysts on average had expected Memphis, Tennessee-based AutoZone to earn $1.28 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales rose 4.1 percent to $1.25 billion, about the same as analysts had expected. Retail sales rose about 4 percent to $1.04 billion and commercial sales rose slightly to $154.7 million.

Sales at domestic stores open at least one year, or same-store sales, rose 0.4 percent.

AutoZone has said it tends to see a correlation between gasoline prices and its same-store sales, with business hurt when prices rise and picking up as they decline.

Shares of AutoZone closed at $96.68 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares rose more than 11 percent during its fiscal second quarter, while the S&P auto retail index rose about 8 percent.

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Liz Claiborne Posts Lower Profit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Liz Claiborne Inc Wednesday reported a lower fourth-quarter profit as the apparel maker took a charge related to accounting for stock options.

The company posted net income of $78 million, or 74 cents per share, compared with $83 million, or 75 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Results include a 4-cent-per-share charge for the adoption of options accounting rules and a change in its management compensation plan.

The company said it remains committed to making acquisitions as part of its growth strategy and it will take advantage of any deals where the business is a good fit and the price is appropriate.

Sales rose 2 percent to a record $1.2 billion.

For the first quarter, the company is looking for earnings of 42 cents to 46 cents per share, including an 18-cent-per-share reduction related to options expensing and costs related to a restructuring plan.

Revlon Reports Higher Profit

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Cosmetics maker Revlon Inc. (REV) posted a higher fourth-quarter profit Wednesday, driven by sales of its new Vital Radiance line for older women and additions to its Almay line.

Net profit was $64.3 million, or 17 cents per share, compared with $46.2 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier, which was the company's first profitable quarter in six years.

Analysts, on average, expected New York-based Revlon to earn 17 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said in February that it would cut about 165 jobs, or less than 2.5 percent of its work force, resulting in a 2006 charge of about $10 million for severance and other costs.

Revlon, which is controlled by billionaire Ronald Perelman, is consolidating some jobs in its sales, marketing and creative groups, as well as some headquarters jobs, and projected annual savings of about $15 million.

Smithfield Foods Posts 27 Percent Decline In Earnings

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD), the largest U.S. hog and pork producer, on Wednesday reported a 27 percent decline in quarterly earnings due to sharply lower results in hog production.

Earnings for the fiscal third quarter ended Jan. 29 fell to $71 million, or 63 cents per share, from $97.5 million, or 87 cents per share, a year earlier.

Wall Street analysts' average forecast was 62 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue slipped to $2.95 billion from $3.06 billion, largely due to lower pork prices.

Operating profit in the hog unit dropped 55 percent as live hog prices averaged $43 per hundredweight, down more than $11 from a year earlier.

Better results were reported in the pork unit, which had an operating profit of $89.7 million, up from $49.8 million a year ago. Much of the improvement was due to low raw materials costs.

In addition to hogs and pork, Smithfield has beef operations and interests in cattle feeding. That unit posted an operating profit of $2.2 million, up from a small loss a year ago.

"Looking forward to the fourth quarter, live hog prices and futures have rallied recently. Fresh pork margins are very weak and difficulties in the beef industry persist. We continue to expect good results in processed meats and solid profitability in hog production," Smithfield Chief Executive Joseph Luter said in a statement.

The year-to-date results include pretax chargestotaling $16.3 million, or 9 cents per diluted share, in connection with the restructuring of East Coast pork processing operations in the second quarter.

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