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Hope In The Numbers

After yesterday's depressing results, it's pleasant to see a number of companies beat or coming in in-line with expectations; even guidance is not horrible today.

1) Dupont posted a loss of $0.28, worse than estimates of a loss of $0.24, with an overall sales decline of 17 percent. As expected, the Performance Materials division, as well as the Coatings division had big declines (30 and 21 percent declines, respectively), while the Agriculture division saw modest declines of only 2 percent. Agriculture is now the largest division by sales (23 percent).

Dupont is a good bellweather to watch; due to its exposure to autos, construction and parts of the consumer sector like paints its profits and losses usually closely correspond with GDP.

You could drive a truck through the 2009 guidance, but at least they gave it: $2.00-$2.50 (down from $2.25-$2.75), consensus estimate is $2.19. Company is concerned about weak vehicle production (down 28 percent in Q1), concerns about higher raw material costs (!), and continuing lower demand.

2) American Express up 5 percent, was roughly in line with expectations ($0.21 vs. $0.22, though the gain included some legal settlements); most importantly, card spending was down 9.6 percent and credit quality continued to deteriorate. Several brokerages cut their price target.

3) U.S. Steel up 7 percent pre-open on a huge beat: $2.00 vs. $0.71 expected. No guidance, but noted that flat rolled and tubular steel would be down "substantially" in the first quarter.

4) Office REIT SL Green up 10 percent, reported earnings (funds from operations) roughly in line with expectations; surprisingly, averge occupancy rates for its Manhattan properties was still high at 96.7 percent.

5) Zions Bancorp had a bigger loss than expected, including a huge provision for goodwill impairment, as well as a large provision for loan losses. Like many regional banks, there is uncertainty about how many additional losses there will be and whether or not they are adequately marking down the value of remaining assets.

    • Citi Has No Plans to Take Delivery Of Any New Aircraft

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