Trader Talk

Earnings Not Much Help For Markets

Mixed reports on earnings this morning; IBM is a help, but Pfizer , Continental Airlines , Marriottand Nokia are not.

Merrill Lynch recorded another $9 b in write-downs on mortgage-related assets, leveraged loans and hedges.

The net loss of $1.97. b ($2.20 a share, expectations were for a loss of $1.96), was the third straight quarterly loss. Both equities and fixed income revenues were below expectations. Also announced a 10 percent head count reduction (about 4,000 jobs). CEO Thain is making both cautious and soothing comments on the conference call, saying he is planning for a slower, more difficult next few quarters, but is optimistic about fiscal y ear 2008.

Pfizer 61 cents, a nickel below expectations, also missed on revenues. Sales of big drugs like Lipitor and Celebrex look below expectations. Not a good start for pharmaecutical earnings. Down 4 percent.

Continental Airlines reported a loss, no surprise since jet fuel costs were up over 50 percent, but it was not as bad as analysts had predicted. They are taking more planes out of service and reducing capacity. They were not terribly downbeat, however. Southwest Airlines reported a small gain.

Marriott cut its earnings outlook for 2008. Once again, growth is international. Revenue per available room (REVPAR, the standard metric) grew only 2.3 percent; international REVPAR increased 18.5 percent (these are for company-owned hotels).

United Technologies reported earnings slightly above expectationsand reaffirmed its 2008 earnings guidance.

UBS' CEO is sounding optimistic this morning, says he doesn't think they will need to raise more capital, and that signs of improvement are starting to appear, but that it will take several more months to exit from the crises.

Nokia reported earnings about in line with expectations, but noted that average selling prices continue to decline, and they seem to have lost market share. Down 11 percent pre-open.

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