Gap profits fall, Penney sales slide
Gap Inc., the largest U.S. apparel chain, said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profits fell 34 percent to beat analysts' lowered forecasts as the company closed the book on a year plagued by operating problems, dismal sales and a tough U.S. retail environment.
The San Francisco-based company, which operates Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores, said net income for the quarter fell to $272 million, or 31 cents a diluted share, from $414 million, or 47 cents a diluted share, a year ago.
Gap has a Lawrence Gap outlet and is planning an Old Navy store.
Meanwhile, J.C. Penney Co. reported February sales at its department stores open at least a year fell 2.1 percent, in line with Wall Street estimates. Total sales for the month fell 0.8 percent.
Heinz buys two firms
H. J. Heinz Co. acquired two food service companies, Cornucopia Inc. and Central Commissary Inc. Terms were not disclosed.
Irvine, Calif.-based Cornucopia and Central Commissary of Phoenix make dressings, sauces and soups for national chain restaurants, Heinz officials said. Both companies are privately held.
A spokeswoman for Pittsburgh-based Heinz said the businesses have combined sales of about $50 million annually.
Heinz operates a pet food plant in Lawrence.
SBC warns on profits
The owner of Southwestern Bell said profits for the first three months of the year will miss Wall Street's expectations for the big local phone company. San Antonio-based SBC Communications Inc. said it will earn from 6 cents to 9 cents per share less than forecast.
The first-quarter results have been weighed down by heavy spending on expanding long-distance, high-speed Internet and wireless service and acquiring Sterling Commerce. Southwestern Bell provides local phone service in Lawrence and across much of Kansas.
US Air losses to grow
Financially troubled US Airways Group Inc. said investors should expect even larger losses in its first quarter than Wall Street expects. Its stock price tumbled 3 percent.
Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial anticipated losses of $1.12 per share in the first three months of this year.
GM, Ford sales skid
U.S. auto sales fell 6 percent in February, about half the decline that analysts forecast, as price breaks drew consumers who continued to make large purchases in a slowing economy.
Sales fell 9.4 percent at General Motors Corp. and 11 percent at DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler, both turning in better results than analysts forecast. Sales declined 11 percent at Ford Motor Co. and 10 percent at Volkswagen AG as automakers faced tough comparisons with February 2000, the industry's second-best month ever.