HP's profit beats estimates
Hewlett-Packard Co's fourth-quarter profit easily exceeded Wall Street's expectations, bolstered by surging laptop sales and continued strong demand for highly profitable printer ink. The board of the Palo Alto-based computer and printer maker also authorized an additional US$8 billion for stock buybacks, a sign the company believes its shares are undervalued. Net income leaped 28 percent in the three months ended Oct. 31 to US$2.16 billion or US$0.81 per share. Excluding one-time charges, HP's profit was US$0.86 per share, US$0.04 higher than the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial.
Beer sales plummeting
Sales of beer in Britain have dropped to the lowest levels since the 1930s, brewers said yesterday, as the country turns increasingly to wine and spirits. The number of pints per day sold in British pubs peaked in 1979, but has slumped by 22 percent -- or 7 million pints -- since then, the British Beer and Pub Association said. The group claims that from 1997 to last year beer duties grew by 27 percent, against 16 percent for wine, 11 percent for cider and 3 percent for spirits, cutting brewers' profits by 78 percent between 2004 and last year alone.
Ssangyong may drop SUV
South Korea's Chinese-owned automaker Ssangyong Motor said yesterday it was considering shutting down production lines for sport utility vehicles (SUV) amid sluggish sales. Ssangyong Motor has suffered from slow demand for its flagship SUV models Rexton and Actyon at home and abroad, company officials said. "Talks are now under way between management and union representatives to suspend the SUV lines," spokesman Kim Bum-suk said. Schedules had yet to be agreed on, he said. The Seoul Economic Daily newspaper quoted an unidentified union leader as saying the automaker would suspend the SUV lines by the end of February.
Madrid airport to rank third
Madrid's international airport will become Europe's third busiest in terms of departures in 2010, surpassing London's Heathrow and Amsterdam's Schipol, a study by Eurocontrol, Europe's air navigation agency, said on Monday. The number of takeoffs from Madrid-Barajas is expected to rise to 255,442 in 2010, a 17.4 percent jump over last year and the biggest increase among Europe's 10 busiest airports, the study showed. Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport will remain Europe's busiest airport with more than 297,000 departures in 2010, while Frankfurt's Main airport will continue in second place with over 265,000 takeoffs, the study said.
Wen warns of asset bubble
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) said that the nation needed to prevent an equity bubble from forming and to curb real estate speculation, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday, quoting Wen's speech during a visit to Singapore. The report made no mention of specific new measures to regulate stock and real estate prices following a boom in both markets. "At a time when stock prices are high, there are voices that want to stop an asset bubble, and in addition saying that if the bubble bursts, it will hurt China's economy," Wen was quoted as saying in a speech on Monday. "I feel both views are correct.