NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Companies reporting earnings after the bell Wednesday gave investors some reason for optimism, as they met or beat analysts' forecasts.
Prime among them was jeans maker Guess? (GES), which exceeded Wall Street's forecast by 3 cents, reporting fourth-quarter earnings of $4.1 million, or 10 cents a diluted share, compared with a net loss of $2.1 million, or 5 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. The company attributed its improved fourth-quarter performance in part to a 12 percent increase in net revenue on the back of double-digit sales increases in its wholesale and retail businesses.
Office Depot (ODP) reported fourth-quarter results that exceeded Wall Street expectations by a penny. The company, which runs a chain of office-products stores, posted net earnings of $68.7 million, or 34 cents a share before merger and restructuring charges. In 1997's fourth quarter, the company posted net earnings of $66.6 million, or 26 cents a share.
In the spring of 1998, the company announced it would merge with Viking Office Products in a stock swap valued at about $3 billion at the time. Charges from that transaction and restructuring have totaled $86.84 million.
Pager company Skytel Communications (SKYT) posted fourth-quarter results that met Wall Street forecasts and demonstrated improvement over the same period in 1997. The company reported a consolidated net income loss of $1.8 million, or a penny per share, compared with a loss of $22.1 million, or 46 cents a share in the fourth quarter a year earlier.
It reported consolidated operating cash flow of $36.8 million, an 83 percent increase from the comparable period in 1997 and a 12 percent increase over its third-quarter cash flow.
Skytel said it will expand its direct sales force and increase its marketing and distribution alliances in 1999.
In non-earnings news, hardware retailer Lowe's (LOW) said Wednesday it would issue $300 million worth of new shares both domestically and internationally to finance its plans for growth. The company said it would set a share price by Feb. 23 or Feb. 24.