Toyota Reports $7.7 Billion Quarterly Loss, Slashes Dividend 29%

Japanese automaker

Toyota

(TM) - Get Report

said Friday that it lost a massive $7.7 billion in the latest quarter, which sent the company to its worst yearly loss in its 77-year history.

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The Tokyo-based company reported a fiscal fourth quarter loss of $7.7 billion, compared to a net profit of $316.8 million in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected a slightly smaller quarterly loss.

For full-year 2009 the company said it lost 437 billion yen or $4.4 billion on net revenue of 20.53 trillion yen. Back in fiscal 2008, the company saw a net profit of 1.72 trillion yen on revenue of 26.29 trillion yen. On average, Wall Street analysts had expected a much smaller full-year loss of 350 billion yen.

Toyota said that vehicle sales were down 22% from the previous year, as consumer spending dropped sharply amid the global economic recession.

To preserve its cash position, the company said it would slash its dividend payout by 29% to 100 yen per share or about $2 down from 140 yen or about $2.80 per share last year. Toyota pays a dividend once every six months.

The company also warned that the sales slowdown would continue well into 2010, saying it expects to sell 6.5 million units in the current fiscal year, down 1.06 million units from the just-completed fiscal year. Toyota is forecasting a net loss of 550 billion yen for the year and an operating loss of 850 billion yen. Toyota shares fell $2.33 or 2.9% in Friday morning trading.

We removed shares of Toyota from our "recommended" list back on Aug.19 when shares traded at $90.75. The company will now have a 2.49% dividend yield, based on the lower dividend payout and last night's closing stock price of $80.24.

The stock has technical support in the $70 to $71 price area. If the shares can firm up, we see near-term overhead resistance around the $82-86 price levels. We would remain on the sidelines for now. Toyota has a Dividend.com DARS Rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars.

Allstate Posts $274 Million First-Quarter Loss, Misses Estimates

Insurance giant

Allstate

(ALL) - Get Report

said late Thursday that it lost $274 million in the latest quarter. Operating income badly missed analyst estimates, which sent shares plummeting.

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The Northbrook, Ill., company reported a first-quarter net loss of $274 million or 51 cents per share, compared to a profit of $348 million or 62 cents per share in the year-ago period. Operating income, which excludes investment gains and losses and is typically used to judge insurers, fell 39% from the same quarter last year to $454 million or 84 cents per share.

This total badly missed the average Wall Street analyst expectation for operating income of $1.23 per share. In addition, net investment income was down 23% to $1.18 billion; new/renewed insurance contracts dropped 3.8% to $6.27 billion; and the combined ratio rose to 96.8%, up from 94% in the year-ago quarter

Despite the deep losses and slowing businesses, Allstate said that its capital position is still sufficient. Allstate shares fell $2.04 or -7.4% in morning trading Friday.

We removed shares of Allstate on Jan.14 when the stock traded at $29.62. We had put the stock on the list at a price of $33.26. The company has a 2.9% dividend yield based on last night's closing stock price of $27.60.

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The stock has technical support in the $18 to $21 price area. If the stock can turn things around, we see overhead resistance around the $30-$32 price levels. We would remain on the sidelines for now. Allstate holds a Dividend.com DARS Rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars.

Weight Watchers First-Quarter Profit Falls 18% on Stronger Dollar, Special Charges

Weight-loss mainstay

Weight Watchers

(WTW) - Get Report

said late Thursday that its first-quarter profit fell 18% from last year. The company cited restructuring charges and negative effects of the stronger dollar.

The New York City-based company reported fiscal first-quarter net income of $47.3 million or 61 cents per share, down from $57.4 million or 72 cents per share in the year-ago period. Excluding one-time charges, Weight Watchers said its adjusted profit was 64 cents per share. Overall revenue fell 11% from the same quarter last year, to $390.6 million.

On average, Wall Street analysts expected earnings of 61 cents per share on revenue of $395.8 million.

Despite the profit drop, the company reaffirmed its 2009 full-year guidance for earnings of $2.50 to $2.75 per share, excluding items. On average, Wall Street analysts expect $2.48 per share.

Weight Watchers stock fell $1.64 or 6% in morning trading Friday.

We have avoided shares of Weight Watchers since our early June coverage began, when the shares traded at $42. The company has a 2.65% dividend yield based on last night's closing stock price of $26.45.

The stock has technical support in the $18 to $20 price area. If the shares can firm up, we see overhead resistance around the $29 to $32 price levels. We would remain on the sidelines for now. Weight Watchers has a Dividend.com DARS Rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars.

McDonald's Reports April Same-Store Sales up 6.9%

Fast-food behemoth

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

said early Friday in its monthly report that its worldwide same-store sales rose 6.9% in April.

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The Oak Brook, Ill., company said that same-store sales rose 6.1% in the U.S., while overseas sales rose 8.9% on a constant currency basis. Same-store sales are considered a key indicator of a retailer's health, since they measure performance of stores open at least 13 months.

McDonald's shares rose $1.78 or 3.4% in morning trading Friday.

We have been recommending shares of McDonald's since June 9 when the stock was trading at $56.95. The company has a dividend yield of 3.75%, based on last night's closing stock price of $53.39. We still find the shares attractive at current levels.

McDonald's is a "recommended" dividend stock, holding a Dividend.com DARS Rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars.

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At the time of publication, the author had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

Tom Reese and Paul Rubillo are senior editors of Dividend.com. Visit Dividend.com for more dividend stock ratings, picks, news, and analysis for long-term and income-seeking investors.