Starbucks says net income rose 20% in second quarter

Starbucks Corp. said Wednesday that its second-quarter net income jumped 20 percent as more customers visited its stores, and it bumped up its earnings forecast for the year.

The coffee giant said it earned $261.6 million, or 34 cents per share, for the quarter that ended April 3, meeting analysts’ average expectations. That’s up from the $217.3 million, or 28 cents per share, earned in the same quarter of 2010.


Improvements help EBay boost first-quarter profit

EBay Inc. on Wednesday said its first-quarter profit rose 20 percent on reinvigorated auctions activity and continued swift growth at its PayPal payment service.

Revenue from the company’s marketplace business, which is its largest and includes, climbed 12 percent to $1.55 billion, well ahead of the single-digit growth that eBay reported in the second half of 2010.

The company has been working to improve the buying and selling experience on by cutting upfront listing fees that it charges sellers, improving its search engine and revamping its home page.


Executive who left Berkshire violated trading, ethics rules

Berkshire Hathaway says a former top executive who many believed might one day succeed Warren Buffett as CEO violated the company’s insider trading and ethics policies by buying stock in a chemical company that Berkshire is acquiring and failing to disclose key details.

On Wednesday, Buffett released a report that Berkshire’s audit committee produced after examining David Sokol’s $10 million investment in Lubrizol.

Sokol resigned from Berkshire shortly after Buffett’s Omaha, Neb., company announced plans to acquire Lubrizol for $9 billion. When his resignation was announced, Sokol said he was leaving to start his own firm.

Berkshire’s board said Sokol offered “misleadingly incomplete disclosures” about his Lubrizol trades, which were made while he was scouting acquisition candidates for Berkshire.


Conoco earnings surge 43%, but Wall Street unimpressed

ConocoPhillips said Wednesday that first-quarter earnings rose 43 percent as higher oil and gasoline prices made up for a sharp decline in production.

The results weren’t as strong as Wall Street had expected, however, and shares fell almost 2 percent.

Conoco, the third-largest U.S. oil company, earned $3 billion in the first three months of the year. Production dropped, however, as the Houston company shed assets to focus on developing oil fields in North America.


Boeing profit tops forecasts; delayed 787 plane advancing

Boeing Co. posted a bigger-than-expected profit Wednesday and said it is on track to deliver the much-delayed 787 in the third quarter.

Boeing’s net income for the first quarter was $586 million, or 78 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting a profit of 70 cents per share.

Nearly 95 percent of the flight tests have been done on the 787 version equipped with Rolls-Royce engines, and almost 75 percent on the version with General Electric engines, the company said.

The first delivery is three years behind schedule. The company has orders for 835 of the planes.


Health care reform helps WellPoint boost earnings

WellPoint Inc. said Wedneday that a drop in expenses helped raise its first-quarter net income nearly 6 percent, as it became the third big health insurer in the past week to beat analyst expectations and raise its 2011 earnings forecast.

The health insurer earned $926.6 million, or $2.44 per share, in the three months that ended March 31. That’s up from $876.8 million, or $1.96 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue fell slightly to $14.89 billion for WellPoint, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states, including Maine.

The Indianapolis company said it received an enrollment boost from a health care overhaul provision that extends insurance coverage for adult children up to age 26. CEO Bezos paid $1.7 million last year Inc. CEO and founder Jeff Bezos received $1.7 million in compensation last year, a dip of 6 percent from 2009, according to an Associated Press analysis of a Wednesday regulatory filing.

Bezos, 47, received a salary of $81,840, the same as in 2009. As in the past, the online retailer said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that its executives’ base salaries are intentionally “significantly less than those paid by similarly situated companies.”

Bezos received other compensation worth $1.6 million, which Amazon said covered his security and business travel. In 2009, he received $1.7 million in other compensation. He did not take home a bonus, incentive or stock options.

Johnson & Johnson’s CEO expects drop-off in recalls

Johnson & Johnson’s CEO said Wednesday he’ll tell shareholders at their annual meeting today that he hopes the company’s many product recalls are behind it, but he can’t promise that.

William Weldon, who has run the health care giant since 2002, said J&J has learned some lessons, invested heavily in improving quality and will work to regain consumer confidence. “We have very high standards now,” he said.

Since September 2009, the company has had about two dozen recalls of medicines, replacement hips, contact lenses and diabetes test strips.


Drop in paid claims helps Allstate quadruple its profit

Home and auto insurer Allstate Corp. said Wednesday that its profit more than quadrupled in the first quarter as it paid out less money for damage claims.

The performance handily beat Wall Street expectations, and shares of the company gained $1.16 to $33.10 in after-hours electronic trading. The stock had closed up 20 cents at $31.94.

In the three months ended March 31, the Northbrook, Ill.-based company said net income climbed to $519 million, or 97 cents per share. That’s up from $120 million, or 22 cents per share, a year ago.