Shaw Group Forecasts 2009 Profit Below Consensus

Shares of Shaw Group ( SGR) are down slightly after the company reported a profit of $36.3 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with $4 million, or 5 cents a share, a year earlier.

The company's revenue rose slightly to $1.7 billion, on the back of a new nuclear power plant contract. Management said the majority of its operating segments continued to perform well, including record performance this quarter by its energy and chemicals segment. Revenue did come in just below the $1.75 billion consensus estimates.

Looking ahead, the company sees 2009 EPS estimates in a range of $2.10 to $2.30, below the $2.70 consensus.

Shares of SGR are way off of all-time highs of $75 hit in October 2007. The stock has technical support in the $20-$21 price area. If the shares can firm up here, we see overhead resistance around the $31-$36 price levels. We do not currently rate this non-dividend paying stock, but do follow the engineering company closely.

Shaw does not currently pay a dividend.

J.C. Penney Lowers First-Quarter Loss Estimate; Shares Jump

Shares of retail clothing chain J.C. Penney ( JCP) were up $2, or 8.6%, in early trading Thursday, after the company indicated that its current-quarter losses wouldn't be as bad as originally expected.

The Plano, Texas-based company said that same-store sales, considered a key indicator of a retailer's health, fell 7.2% in March. On average, analysts expected a 10.5% loss.

The company also said that total sales fell 5.4% to $1.46 billion in the quarter. J.C. Penney now expects a first-quarter loss of 5 to 10 cents per share, much better than its earlier prediction for a loss of 20 to 30 cents per share.

The latest pop in its stock price means that JCP is now up more than 24% year to date.

We had removed shares of JCP from our "Recommended" list back on Sept.22, when shares were trading at $38.11. The company has a 3.54% dividend yield, based on last night's closing price of $22.60. The stock has technical support around the $14-$15 price area. If the shares can firm up, we see overhead resistance around the $25-%28 price level. We would remain on the sidelines for now, but do like the news we are seeing.

J.C. Penney is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com DARST Rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars.

Wal-Mart March Same-Store Sales Disappoint

Wal-Mart Stores ( WMT) said Thursday that its March same-store sales numbers increased by a smaller-than-expected margin, sending the department store chain's shares plummeting.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based company said its same-store sales, considered a key indicator of a retailer's health, rose by 1.4% in March. This result badly missed analyst expectations, which predicted same-store sales growth of 3.2%.

Wal-Mart management remained optimistic on April sales numbers, expecting Easter sales to help drive its ticket prices up. The company also said it expects first quarter earnings to come in at the high end of its 72-to-77 cents per share estimate. On average, analysts expect first quarter EPS of 76 cents.

Wal-Mart shares fell $2.31, or -4.4%, in morning trading Thursday.

We had removed shares of WMT from our "Recommended" list back on Oct.7, when the shares were trading at $57.90. The company will now have a dividend yield of 2.07%, based on last night's closing stock price of $52.61. The stock is trading near some technical support in the $49-50 price area. If this level fails to hold, the $42-43 level can potentially come into play. If the shares can firm up, we see overhead resistance around the $52-54 mark. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Wal-Mart is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com DARST Rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars.

Kohl's March Same-Store Sales Fall by a More-Than-Expected 4.3%

Shares of Kohl's ( KSS) rallied slightly Thursday, after the retailer reported same-store sales that fell by a smaller-than-expected margin.

The Menomonee Falls, Wisc.-based company said that March same-store sales, considered perhaps the biggest indicator of a retailer's health, fell by 4.3%. Analysts had expected the numbers to fall by 4.7%.

Kohl's president and CEO Kevin Mansell said that "Sales results for March exceeded our expectations." The company's net sales so far this quarter are up 1.8% to $2.44 billion, while comparable-store sales are down 3.2%.

Kohl's shares were up 22 cents, or +0.5%, in late morning trading Thursday.

Shares of KSS are way off of its all-time highs of $76 a share, hit in the spring of 2007. The stock has technical support in the $33-35 price area. If the shares can firm up, we see overhead resistance around the $49-50 price levels. We do not currently rate this non-dividend paying stock, but we do watch the stock closely, as it has appeared recently on our non-dividend stocks to watch.

Kohl's does not currently pay a dividend.
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.