US companies on Tuesday underlined the resilience of their international operations but failed to dispel fears that the slowing domestic economy would weigh on future earnings.
Third quarter results released by a raft of large US groups showed that the weaker dollar and global economic growth are helping parts of corporate America to cushion the blow of the housing downturn and liquidity squeeze.
The chemical maker DuPont became the latest company with large overseas sales to report strong profit growth and a bullish outlook for next year.
The company said that, although it expected the US housing market to remain depressed in 2008, profit growth would come from rising international demand, particularly for its agricultural products.
The stock market took heart from DuPont’s comments, as well as strong results released by Apple and American Express on Monday after the closing. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.16 per cent higher in midday New York trading, while the S&P 500 was also in positive territory.
However, Whirlpool, the world’s largest appliance maker, saw its shares slip five per cent after missing analysts’ estimates on weak US sales and issuing bearish predictions for the near-term future of its domestic business.
Meanwhile, UPS, the world’s biggest package-delivery company, predicted that domestic retail sales would rise at its slowest pace in four years.
Scott Davis, UPS chief financial officer, who is to become chief executive on January 1, told the FT that high energy prices and falling housing prices are “bound to put pressure on the consumer”.
However, UPS said a gradual rebound in industrial production would quicken the pace of US economic expansion to around 2.5 per cent in 2008.
Other companies, such as the heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, have been less sanguine, warning the economy was heading for a recession.
Unlike its arch-rival FedEx, which cut its earnings forecasts for the rest of the year due to the slowing US economy, UPS expects to earn $4.13 to $4.19 a share in 2007, within the range of estimates provided to investors at the start of the year.