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Stocks to Watch: Limited Brands reveals soft outlook

Globe and Mail Blog

18:17 EDT Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The parent of the Victoria’s Secret lingerie store chain took centre stage in the post market Wednesday, as investors braced for some key U.S. retailer earnings on Thursday.

Limited Brands Inc. posted a quarterly profit that beat analyst expectations, but its shares dropped 3.5 per cent in extended trading because its outlook for the current quarter disappointed. It forecast earnings of 40 cents (U.S.) to 45 cents per share, below the average Street forecast of 50 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company that also operates Bath & Body Works and La Senza chains as well as luxury retailer Henri Bendel reported first-quarter profit of 41 cents per share, a penny better than analyst forecasts.

Thursday lookahead

Attention now turns to the biggest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. , which will report its first-quarter results before the opening bell. It's expected to post a profit of $1.04 a share on revenue of $110.5-billion, with same-store sales rising 2 per cent. Also expected at some point on Thursday are the latest earnings from Sears , Dollar Tree and the Gap .

News on the corporate front on this side of the border will be dominated by the fight for Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., which will come to a head at a shareholder meeting in Calgary during regular trading hours. Activist investor Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, now the railway's biggest shareholder, has been waging a fight, proposing a dissident slate of seven directors, and wants to replace chief executive officer Fred Green with Hunter Harrison, the former CEO of rival Canadian National. Lately, Mr. Ackman has been winning support for his team.

On the economic front Thursday morning, Japan reports first-quarter growth overnite. Economists are betting on a good rebound, after the fourth-quarter contraction.

The U.S. releases weekly jobless claims at 830 a.m. (ET). The previous week saw claims edge lower to 367,000 and economists are expecting a further modest drop to 365,000 in the week ended May 12.

Spain, meanwhile, will have another bond auction. And the Bank of Canada publishes its quarterly review at 1030 a.m. (ET).

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