Lowe’s quarterly profit rises 2.7 percent, beats estimates

Lowe’s Cos. said shoppers spent more on home improvement projects in the first quarter and opted to buy new big-ticket items rather than fix them, pushing the retailer’s net income up 2.7 percent.

The nation’s No. 2 home-improvement chain also said government stimulus programs, including tax credits for home purchases and rebates for energy-efficient products, aided results, as did warmer weather.

The company’s results Monday beat estimates and it raised its guidance for the year. But the new expectations fell short of analyst predictions and shares fell.

The company, based in Mooresville, N.C., earned $489 million, or 34 cents a share, in the three months ended April 30. In the same period last year the company earned $476 million, or 32 cents a share. Revenue rose 4.7 percent to $12.39 billion.

 

Toll Brothers’ co-founder to step down as CEO June 16

Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. said Monday co-founder Robert Toll will step down as chief executive next month, but will retain his title of executive chairman.

The company’s board of directors elected Douglas Yearley Jr. to succeed Toll as CEO, effective June 16.

Toll, 69, has held the chairman and CEO jobs since co-founding the company with his brother, Bruce, in 1967.

Toll said he put off stepping down until now because he says the worst of the housing market downturn is over.

Fortunes have been improving for homebuilders since last year, thanks to low mortgage rates, falling home prices and homebuyer tax credits.

 

German finance chief urges EU nations to reduce deficits

Germany is pushing the other countries that use the euro to swiftly cut budget deficits as the only way Europe’s battered currency union can restore confidence and climb out of a debt crisis that threatens to wreck it.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters Monday at a meeting of finance officials from the 16 eurozone countries that getting their deficits down was “the only task that everyone has to fulfill for himself and for all.”

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is providing the largest chunk of a euro110 billion bailout for Greece and a euro750 billion ($1 trillion) rescue package for other euro nations.

 

Credit card companies say more consumers paying bills

More consumers paid their credit card bills on time in April, in another sign the fledging economic recovery may be picking up steam.

Capital One, Discover, American Express, Chase and Citibank all said the rate at which they wrote off unpaid credit card bills fell last month. Several lenders saw improvement for the second straight month.

American Express had the lowest rate at 6.7 percent of its total loans, down from 7.5 percent in March. American Express customers tend to be more affluent than those of some of the other lenders.

Of the top six U.S. credit card issuers, only Bank of America posted higher charge-offs for April — 12.71 percent versus 12.54 percent in March. Citi took the No. 2 highest spot at 11.23 percent of total balances, though that improved from 11.55 percent in March.

 

Canadian ministers to speak on opposition to bank tax

Canada’s prime minister has dispatched his top ministers around the world to wage a campaign against a proposed international bank tax that he says would unfairly penalize Canadian banks.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday that Canada has not experienced the failure of any major financial institution, and said it would be unfair to punish Canadian banks for the misdeeds of others. Harper spoke at a G-8 and G-20 youth forum in Toronto ahead of the G-8 and G-20 summit in Canada next month.

Five Cabinet ministers will deliver speeches in Washington, Shanghai, Mumbai and Ottawa today to express Canada’s opposition to the bank tax.

The tax is being pushed by European countries and has the backing of the United States.