Earnings: Sears, EchoStar, Lehman Brothers

Earnings: Sears | Echostar | Lehman Brothers

Sears Profit Beats Estimates

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) on Wednesday posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, as it slashed costs and eliminated profit-crunching markdowns at its Sears stores, and its shares jumped 5.7 percent in premarket trade.

The owner of Sears and Kmart stores, which is headed by financier Edward Lampert, said it earned $648 million, or $4.03 per share, in the fiscal fourth quarter ended in January, up from $309 million, or $3.09 per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of $3.62 per share, according to Reuters Estimates. The retailer said in January that earnings per share would likely be between $3.55 and $3.95.

Sears Holdings was formed in March 2004 via an acquisition of Sears, Roebuck and Co. by Kmart Holdings Corp. The results for the year-ago quarter do not include any results of Sears stores.

The company, which released its financial results in its annual report filed with the Securities Exchange Commission, said the year-ago fourth-quarter included gains of $35 million and $46 million on sales of assets and recoveries from bankruptcy-related settlements related to the merger of Sears and Kmart under Sears Holdings.

Total revenue was $16.09 billion. The company did break out the revenue figures for Kmart and Sears. Analysts had been looking for revenue of $16.45 billion.

Shares of Sears were up $6.71 at $123.98 in premarket trade on the Inet electronic network.

Reuters Estimates lists only six analysts who follow the stock, compared with 16 for J.C. Penney (JCP). Some analysts have questioned whether combining Sears, which has struggled to grow sales, and Kmart, which emerged from bankruptcy protection in May 2003, would create a strong retailer or merely combine the companies' problems.

In December, Lampert blasted commentators, analysts and journalists, saying many of them were more interested in controversy than accuracy.

Lampert, who orchestrated Kmart's takeover of Sears last year, has been adding Sears brands such as Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools to Kmart stores in the hope of combining the best of both retailers.

Click here to visit FOXBusiness.com's Investing page.

Echostar Posts Higher Profit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. satellite television broadcaster EchoStar Communications Corp. (DISH) Wednesday posted a higher profit as subscriber numbers rose.

The second-largest satellite TV provider, which operates under the DISH Network brand, posted fourth-quarter net income of $133 million, or 30 cents per share, up from a profit of $70 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates had expected the company to post earnings of 35 cents per shares.

The company added 330,000 net new subscribers in the quarter, ending the year with about 12.04 million DISH Network subscribers.

Revenue for the quarter rose 12.8 percent to $2.8 billion.

Click here to visit FOXBusiness.com's Investing page.

Lehman Brothers Posts Higher Earnings

NEW YORK - Earnings at Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. climbed 25 percent in its fiscal first quarter, the company said Wednesday, setting a new record for both pofits and revenues on strong results from its investment banking and equities trading businesses.

For the quarter ending Feb. 28, Lehman Brothers earned $1.07 billion, or $3.66 per share, compared with $856 million, or $2.91 per share, in the first quarter of 2005. The results include a one-time gain due to accounting changes that added $47 million, or 16 cents per share, to the company's results

Revenue came to $4.46 billion, up 17 percent from $3.81 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had forecast earnings of $3.17 per share on revenue of $4.17 billion.

Investment banking revenue rose 22 percent to $835 million, the third consecutive quarter of record income for the division. The increase came largely due to record activity in corporate debt underwriting.

Within Lehman's capital markets division, equity revenues surged 52 percent to $944 million as the company took advantage of strong gains in the stock market during the quarter. Fixed-income revenue, which includes bonds, real estate and credit trading, rose 2 percent to $2.1 billion.

Lehman's investment management arm saw revenue rise 33 percent to $580 million as the company saw more customer money flow into its mutual funds and private asset management accounts.

Click here to visit FOXBusiness.com's Investing page.