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J.C. Penney CEO Declines Annual Forecast; Wells Fargo 1Q Beats Estimates; Chinese Economy Undaunted in 1Q; GE Ups Asian Investment; Auto Industry Heats Up in India; Qualcomm's India Investment; Sparrows Point Deal Approved; Welch Shows Wrath
- Myron Ullman, the chief executive officer of department store company J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP), said that he doesn't intend to provide annual financial guidance at this time, as the market is too cloudy to predict a forecast, Reuters reported. "I've been in the business 39 years. I don't think I've ever seen an environment that was as unpredictable as the current environment," he said.
- Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) emerged from the first quarter with analyst-beating results, posting an 11% decline in profits but a 12% increase in revenue and 1% decline in expenses. "Despite a weakening economy, the continued downturn in housing and expected higher charge-offs, this was a remarkably strong quarter," Chief Executive John Stumpf said in a statement.
- China's economy grew by 10.6% in the first quarter of 2008, only slightly less than the 11.2% expansion in the final three months of 2007. The country was able to maintain double-digit growth despite complications stemming from the U.S. credit crunch, the Chinese New Year and the worst ice storm the country had seen in decades.
- General Electric Co. (GE) plans to invest up to $2 billion in acquisitions and other deals in China over the next three years as part of a strategy to double its revenues in the country, the Financial Times reported. The world's biggest industrial company, which stunned investors last week when it announced its worst quarter in five years, is looking to hire a team of 20 "in-house investment bankers" to conduct the deals in China.
- Toyota Kirloskar Motor Private Ltd., the automotive joint venture between Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) and India's Kirloskar Group is set to invest $350 million on a new plant in Bangalore. The plant will follow Tata Motor Corp's (TTM) lead by producing "a strategic new small car" by 2010, .
- Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) announced it would invest in India-based start-up technology companies that offer "innovative technologies and services that enhance wireless communications and semiconductor ecosystems," The Financial Express reported. San Diego-based Qualcomm's first investment will be in India's Tessolve Services Pvt. Ltd., a firm that provides solutions and platforms for semiconductor testing, packaging, qualification and failure analysis.
- The U.S. Department of Justice has approved the $810 million deal that allows Russia's largest steel producer Severstal OAO to purchase the Sparrows Point steel mill from ArcelorMittal (MT). The DOJ demanded the sale of the Baltimore County, Md.-based plant after the merger between India-based Mittal and Luxemburg-based Arcelor to enforce anti-monopoly laws.
- General Electric Co. (GE) former chief executive Jack Welch demonstrated his frustration yesterday (Wednesday) with his successor, , after GE's profit fell 6% in the first quarter. "I'd be shocked beyond belief and I'd get a gun out and shoot him if he doesn't make what he promised now," Welch said in a CNBC interview, a cable station owned by GE, . "Just deliver the earnings. Tell them you're going to grow 12% and deliver 12%."