Newell Rubbermaid Cuts Dividend Second Time in Six Weeks

Shares of Newell Rubbermaid ( NWL) were down nearly 10% in early trading after the company's board of directors authorized a reduction in the quarterly common stock dividend to 5 cents per share from 10.5 cents per share.

Management believes that the reduced payout level demonstrates a strong commitment to maintaining its current investment grade rating while still providing a competitive and appropriate dividend yield.

We had removed shares of NWL on July 9, when the stock was trading at $16.16. We had recommended the shares briefly from the $19 level. The company will now have a 2.76% dividend yield, based on last night's closing stock price of $7.25. The stock has technical support near all-time technical lows in the $4-$5 price range. If the shares can manage a rebound, we see overhead resistance around the $8-$10 level. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Newell Rubbermaid is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Carnival First-Quarter Profit Beats Views

Cruise-ship operator Carnival ( CCL) reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that easily beat Wall Street estimates Tuesday but trimmed its full-year guidance.

The Miami-based company said it earned $260 million, or 33 cents per share in the first quarter, up from $236 million, or 30 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Net revenue fell 9% to $2.9 billion from $3.2 billion, however, as a decline in consumer demand outweighed the benefits of lower fuel costs.

The EPS results easily beat the average Wall Street estimate of 19 cents per share.

Carnival said that booking volumes for 2009 are 10% ahead of year-ago levels, but at "significantly lower prices." The company has been aggressively running discount promotions in order to drum up customer interest in its array of cruise vacation options.

Carnival lowered its full-year 2009 outlook, saying it now expects full-year EPS of $2.10 to $2.30 per share, lower than its previous forecast of $2.25 to $2.75. The new projections are still in line with Wall Street estimates, however.

The company said it will seek out "low-cost opportunities to enhance its liquidity" in 2009.

Carnival shares were up 20 cents, or 0.9%, in late-morning trading Tuesday.

Shares of CCL are way off all-time highs of $57 hit in January 2005. The company has technical support in the $15-$17 price area. If the shares can continue their recent rebound, we see overhead resistance around the $26-$30 level. We do not currently rate this non-dividend paying stock but do follow the company closely.

Carnival suspended dividend payouts in October 2008.

Williams-Sonoma Net Income Drops 90%

Home-products retailer Williams-Sonoma ( WSM) said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 90% on a consumer spending slowdown, but results still topped analyst expectations.

The company, which operates Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn stores, reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $12.2 million, or 12 cents per share, compared with $124.6 million, or $1.15 per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding special charges, including restructuring and costs from job cuts, profit was 31 cents per share.

Several analysts pinned profit estimates at 23 cents per share, including some charges.

Although Williams-Sonoma's quarterly results beat estimates, its net income still slid almost 27% to $1.01 billion, and same-store sales, considered the key indicator of a retailer's health, fell a whopping 22.3%.

The San Francisco-based company said it expects losses in the next two quarters and will probably not turn a profit again until the fiscal fourth quarter 2009, when holiday sales are expected to rise. Because of this tentative forecast, the company sees a full-year EPS range between a loss of 15 cents per share to a profit of 5 cents. This range is below analysts' estimates of 6 cents per share.

Williams-Sonoma shares were up 64 cents, or 5.7%, in early afternoon trading Tuesday.

We have been avoiding WSM shares since our early June coverage began, when they were around $22. Williams-Sonoma currently has a 4.29% dividend yield, based on last night's closing price of $11.19. The stock has technical support in the $5-$7 price area. If the shares can firm up, we see overhead resistance around the $13-$16 price mark. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Williams-Sonoma is not recommended, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 2.9 out of 5 stars.

Schlumberger Anticipates Next Round of Layoffs

Shares of Schlumberger ( SLB) are relatively flat in early trading after the company's CEO made comments at an energy conference that the oil service giant is cutting another 6% of its workforce in its second round of layoffs since January.

The company recently reported its fourth-quarter profit fell 17% to $1.15 billion, or 95 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $1.38 billion, or $1.12 per share. It also had announced 5,000 job cuts as well.

We have avoided the shares of SLB since we began our June coverage, when the shares were trading at $101.94. The company has a 1.80% dividend yield, based on last night's closing stock price of $46.75. The stock has technical support in the $35-37 price area. If the shares can firm up and rally, we see overhead resistance at the $51-$55 level. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Schlumberger is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars.

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system.

At the time of publication, the authors 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.

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