MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Opening View

U.S. stock futures are trading mildly lower heading into the open, indicative of a potentially negative start to the regular session. In overseas trading, Asian markets took a cue from Wall Street, reversing yesterday's losses, while European markets were lifted by mining issue Rio Tinto. In focus this morning are a retail earnings trifecta – featuring Sears Holdings, Big Lots, and Costco Wholesale – and General Motors' plans to cut costs.

Taking the earnings spotlight this morning was Sears Holdings (SHLD: View sentiment for SHLDsentiment, chart, options) . The retailer reported a first-quarter net loss of $56 million, or 43 cents per share, compared to net income of $223 million, or $1.45 per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, earnings docked at a loss of 53 cents per share; analysts, on average, were calling for a profit of 21 cents per share. Meanwhile, revenue fizzled 5.7% to $11.07 billion in the latest quarter, with comparable-store sales dropping 8.6%.

Big Lots (BIG: View sentiment for BIGsentiment, chart, options) also stepped into the earnings confessional, reporting first-quarter net income spiked 20% higher to $34.5 million, or 42 cents per share, exceeding the Street's per-share estimate of 36 cents. The company also upped its fiscal-year guidance to $1.80 to $1.90 per share; analysts, on average, expect fiscal-year earnings of $1.79 per share.

Rounding out the big retail trifecta, Costco Wholesale (COST: View sentiment for COSTsentiment, chart, options) reported third-quarter net income jumped 32%, with total sales rising 13% and same-store sales jumping 8%. More specifically, quarterly earnings came in at $295.1 million, or 67 cents per share, while revenue reached $16.26 billion. The Street forecast earnings of 65 cents per share on revenue of $16.32 billion.

In other news, The Wall Street Journal reported that General Motors (GM: View sentiment for GMsentiment, chart, options) plans to cut more costs in the wake of shrinking truck sales. GM's Chief Executive Rick Wagoner is allegedly slated to disclose details regarding the planned cuts at the company's annual meeting June 3.


Opening View: Sears Holdings, Big Lots, and Costco Take Earnings Spotlight

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