The World's Biggest Companies Reveal What's Happening In The Global Economy

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Earnings season is well underway. 18 per cent of S&P 500 companies reported earnings this last week and 34 per cent more are slated to report this week.Rather than dwell on company-specific performance, we wanted to see what these industry leaders were saying about the global economy.

We dug through earnings announcements, conference calls and presentations to get a sense of how 2012 is shaping up for companies so far.

Yum! Brands sees Africa as the next big growth market for fast food

'By the end of the year, we expect to be in about 20 African countries with tremendous growth potential. The projected population growth in African countries like Nigeria is staggering, and we're establishing market leadership positions with KFC to capitalise on this opportunity.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

Philip Morris says people will smoke less when their economy's getting slammed

'In the EU, PMI's total cigarette shipment volume decreased by 9.4% in the quarter, predominantly due to a lower total market, particularly in southern Europe.'

Source: Philip Morris International

Freeport-McMoRan Copper says the U.S. auto industry is returning to pre-crisis levels

'In the U.S our market has been supported by the automobile industry, which is now returning to pre-2008 financial crisis levels ... Overall in the U.S, copper demand is stronger than the overall performance of the U.S economy, and it certainly reflects the weakness in the economy of the U.S. but there are pockets that are making the business stronger than the overall economy.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

Southwest Airlines says service to small cities is being cut off thanks to high fuel prices

'Each airline continues to make aggressive but prudent schedule changes. International cities are being added in AirTran. Small cities that don't fit the Southwest model in this high-fuel-cost environment are being closed.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

Chipotle says the drought will likely mean higher food costs for the rest of the year

'In terms of full year inflation, while costs have been relatively stable overall so far this year, the recent extreme weather will likely put pressure on our food costs later in the year and into 2013...In addition to the higher expected cost of avocados and beef we discussed in our last call, there will likely be additional pressure on dairy and chicken.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

Intel says emerging markets like China and Brazil are slowing

'Emerging markets, especially China and Brazil are still growing nicely, but are moderating due to GDP adjustments and currency fluctuations. Taken together, these factors have led us to adjust our expectations for the second half. We are now expecting full-year revenue growth in the 3% to 5% range versus our prior expectation of high single digits.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

Mattel says children in the emerging markets will be playing with cooler toys

'NPD data also indicates that Europe, despite its recent economic challenges, remains relatively stable through May 2012, reinforcing our belief that the toy industry holds up well in the tough economic times. Using NPD data, that represents about half of the total toy industry. And our global and market experience, we continue to see overall global toy industry growth due to positive demographic trends and toy spending in emerging and developing markets.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

Sherwin Williams says the U.S. home improvement market is in great shape

'Thus far, paints and coatings demand in our domestic businesses has remained resilient. We are optimistic that domestic architectural paint market volumes, primarily in the residential segments, will remain positive over the balance of the painting season and demand for most industrial coatings will continue to expand.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

CSX says cheap natural gas is crushing demand for coal

Microsoft says worldwide demand for PCs is flat

'Turning to the PC market, we estimate that the worldwide PC market was roughly flat this quarter with approximately 85 million PCs sold. Business PCs were up 1% and consumer PCs were down 2%.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

American Express says small businesses and consumers are increasingly defaulting in the U.S.

'The U.S. consumer and small business group had higher write-off rates in the second quarter of 2011 at 2% compared to 1.5% in the second quarter of last year. And that's why on the prior chart, we had higher write-off dollars in charge card.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

Alcoa says America's trucking fleet is ageing

'We believe that heavy truck production will slow down in the second half of the year, and this will get production in line again with lower orders...But let's also remember if you look at the fact here, the average age of the fleet today is 6.69 years. That's the oldest on record. The 20-­year average is 5.85. So obviously, there is a need for replacement at one point in time, and that is going to drive demand.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

Marriott doesn't see any slowing in business-related bookings

'I know that first and most important question you may have is, are you seeing a slowdown in North America, and the answer is no. There's plenty of evidence of continuing strength in our lodging business in North America. In North America year-­to­-date, the Marriott brand special corporate revenue has been strong, up over 8%. Group revenue rose 7% year-­to­-date, and group bookings for the second half are even stronger.'

Source: Seeking Alpha

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