Earnings: Altria, Boeing, Harrah's, Colgate-Palmolive, WellPoint, DaimlerChrysler

Earnings: Altria | Boeing | Harrah's | Colgate-palmolive | Wellpoint | DaimlerChrysler |

Altria Earnings Fall

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Altria Group Inc. (MO) Wednesday posted a dip in quarterly profit, pressured by weakness in Spain and inventory depletion in Japan.

But the cigarette and food company gave no new details about the timing of the spinoff of Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT), a move that is part of a corporate restructuring investors are waiting for in expectation it will lift the value of Altria shares.

The parent of the Philip Morris tobacco companies said profit was $2.88 billion, or $1.36 a share, in the third quarter, compared with $$2.88 billion, or $1.38 a share, a year earlier.

Altria shares are up about 6 percent this year, compared with a 13-percent increase for the Dow Jones industrial average .

Altria shares had rallied to an all-time high of $85 earlier this year. But the stock has retreated since a federal judge in New York ruled last month that U.S. smokers who bought "light" cigarettes could sue the tobacco industry as one large class on allegations cigarette makers fooled consumers into thinking "light" cigarettes were safer than regular smokes.

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Boeing Earnings Dip On Charge

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boeing Co. (BA) Wednesday said third-quarter profit fell as higher commercial jet sales were offset by a charge for closing its in-plane broadband Internet service.

The Chicago-based company, which is also the No. 2 U.S. defense contractor, reported quarterly profit of $694 million, or 89 cents per share, compared with $1 billion, or $1.26 per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Revenue rose 19 percent to $14.7 billion.

Wall Street's lowered earnings forecast was 63 cents per share, on average, according to Reuters Estimates. Revenue was below analysts' average forecast of $14.99 billion.

Boeing posted higher sales in both its commercial plane and defense units, but profit was cut drastically by a $272 million charge for closing Connexion, its money-losing high-speed broadband communications service.

Boeing said in August it would close the unit, taking charges in the third and fourth quarters.

The company nudged down the top end of its full-year 2006 earnings forecast to reflect the Connexion charge, offset by better performance in its businesses. The new range is $2.40 to $2.50 per share, compared with a previous forecast of $2.40 to $2.55. Wall Street is expecting $2.35 on average.

Boeing increased its 2007 earnings forecast to a range of $4.45 to $4.65 per share. Analysts are expecting $4.69, on average.

Harrah's Profit Rises, But Misses Views

LAS VEGAS - Harrah's Entertainment Inc. (HET), the world's largest casino operator, said Wednesday its third-quarter profit rose 5 percent on a strong performance in its Las Vegas resorts, but missed analysts' expectations.

Net income climbed to $177.2 million, or 95 cents per share, from $169 million, or 91 cents per share, in the prior-year period. Earnings from continuing operations rose 4 percent to $178.3 million, or 96 cents per share, from $171 million, or 92 cents per share, last year.

Revenue for the quarter increased 11 percent to $2.51 billion versus $2.27 billion in the year-ago period.

On average, analysts were expecting third-quarter earnings of 99 cents per share on sales of $2.41 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, climbed 8 percent. The comparison includes properties obtained in the Caesars Entertainment Inc. acquisition, but excludes sites closed for all or part of the periods due to hurricane damage sustained in last year's third quarter. Las Vegas resorts sales jumped 21 percent in the quarter to $812.4 million from $670.1 million.

"The Las Vegas Region in particular benefited from increased visitation and spending by members of the company's Total Rewards customer-loyalty program, and the successful World Series of Poker at the Rio," Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Loveman said in a statement.

Atlantic City revenue edged down 0.3 percent to $560.2 million from $562.1 million, in part due to a three-day shutdown in the region for a government budget lockout.

"New Jersey's three-day shutdown of Atlantic City casinos due to a state budget impasse, competitive activities in the city and insufficient marketing initiatives on our part impacted our Atlantic City Region performance. Most other regions saw improved operating earnings and higher margins," Loveman said.

In early October, Harrah's received a buyout bid of $15.05 billion from two private-equity firms. The bid was reportedly raised to more than $15.5 billion after Harrah's rejected the original offer. The transaction would be the biggest deal ever for a casino operator and the fifth-largest leveraged buyout in history.

Colgate Earnings Weighed Down By Restructuring, Compensation

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Colgate-Palmolive Co., the maker of its namesake toothpaste and other consumer products, posted a slightly lower quarterly profit Wednesday, weighed down by restructuring charges and the impact of stock-based compensation.

The company said it expects to post "excellent quality" double-digit earnings-per-share growth this year, excluding restructuring and stock-based compensation charges, and in 2007 as well.

Third-quarter profit fell to $344.1 million, or 63 cents per share, from $347.2 million, or 63 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding restructuring charges and the impact of stock-based compensation in the latest period, and excluding restructuring charges a year ago, Colgate earned $421.5 million, or 77 cents per share, up from $369.7 million, or 67 cents per share.

Excluding the restructuring charges, but including stock-based compensation charges, Colgate earned 73 cents per share in the latest quarter, topping Wall Street's consensus view by a penny, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales rose 8 percent to $3.14 billion, above analysts' average estimate of just under $3.08 billion.

Colgate unveiled a restructuring plan in 2004 that included cutting 12 percent of its work force and closing one-third of its factories.

The company has also beefed up its advertising spending to defend itself against the likes of Procter & Gamble Co., which introduced a new Crest toothpaste in the U.S. market during the quarter to rival Colgate Total.

Colgate said its share of the U.S. toothpaste market rose to 37.4 percent year to date, up 40 basis points from a year earlier and more than 3 share points ahead of Crest, citing ACNielsen market share data. Colgate Total led that growth, posting an all-time record high market share of 15.2 percent.

Shares of Colgate, which is now focused on profitable areas such as oral care, personal care and pet food, rose 3.7 percent during the quarter, while P&G shares rose 8.8 percent.

Wellpoint Beats Expectations As Earnings Rise 27 Percent

INDIANAPOLIS - (AP) - WellPoint Inc. (WLP), the nation's largest health insurer, said Wednesday that third-quarter earnings rose 27 percent to beat Wall Street expectations, and guided for 2006 earnings above consensus estimates.

Net income climbed to $810.8 million, or $1.29 per share, from $640.7 million, or $1.02 per share, a year ago. Latest quarter results included tax benefits of 4 cents per share on a lower tax rate following the WellChoice acquisition, investment gains of a penny per share and stock option costs of 5 cents.

Revenue grew 29 percent to $14.43 billion from $11.16 billion.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for profit of $1.23 per share on sales of $14.36 billion.

"We are very pleased with our continued strong performance in 2006, and our third quarter results reinforce our earnings growth expectations for the remainder of the year," said Larry C. Glasscock, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Looking ahead to 2007, we anticipate another year of robust growth in our National Accounts business, along with further expansion of our Medicaid membership base following our recent contract awards. While we will release our specific 2007 outlook in December, we expect continued earnings per share growth and further improvement in operating margins through more efficient operations."

Medical enrollment totaled 34.2 million members at Sept. 30, an increase of 5.2 million members from 29 million last year, including about 4.8 million members acquired through the WellChoice transaction.

On a comparable basis, enrollment increased by 558,000 members since Sept. 30, 2005, with each of the company's geographic regions experiencing growth. Medicare Part D enrollment grew by 42,000 members during the quarter, totaling 1.6 million members as of Sept. 30, 2006.

Looking ahead, the company now expects net income of $4.81 per share, including tax benefits of 4 cents per share and losses of a penny per share. Excluding items, earnings are forecast at $4.78 per share on operating revenue of about $56.1 billion.

Wall Street is seeking profit of $4.76 per share on higher sales of $56.7 billion.

WellPoint said it expects to achieve its targeted 15 percent earnings per share growth in 2007.

DaimlerChrysler Bears Expectations In Spite Of Chrysler Loss

FRANKFURT, Oct 25 (Reuters) - DaimlerChrysler (DCX) posted third-quarter operating profit of 892 million euros ($1.1 billion), clearly higher than analysts' average expectations, despite a big loss at U.S. arm Chrysler.

The world's fifth-biggest carmaker also kept its 2006 operating profit forecast of around 5 billion euros, despite expectations of a lower earnings contribution from aerospace group EADS, in which it is a major shareholder.

Nineteen analysts polled by Reuters had expected on average third-quarter operating profit of 550 million euros, down from 1.84 billion in the year-earlier period.

DaimlerChrysler shares rose 4 percent to 43.16 euros at 1127 GMT, the top gainers on the DAX bluechip index.

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