Valmont Industries Smashes Estimates with Record Quarterly Profit

Diversified metals products company Valmont Industries ( VMI) posted a record quarterly profit Friday, easily beating analyst estimates and sending its shares rocketing 16%.

The Omaha, Neb.-based company, which fabricates concrete and metal products used in infrastructure, reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $35.9 million, or $1.37 per share, up 20% from $29.7 million, or $1.13 per share, in the year-ago period.

On average, Wall Street analysts expected a profit of $1.08 per share. This report marks the fifth consecutive time the company has beat earnings estimates.

Sales rose 8% in the quarter to $455.2 million, compared with $422.3 million in the same quarter last year. The company's utility support structures business saw the biggest jump, with a 74% rise in sales to $176 million.

Looking ahead, the company expects higher annual revenue in the North American utility market, but is not so optimistic about other segments. The long-term driver for the engineered support business in North America will be the renewal of the U.S. federal highway bill expected this fall, the company noted.

Valmont said it expects full-year 2009 earnings to be "only modestly lower" than last year's results.

Valmont stock rose $9.38, or 16.9%, in late-morning trading Friday.

We had removed shares of VMI on Sept. 3, when the stock was trading at $100.70. The company has a 0.94% dividend yield, based on last night's closing price of $55.30. The stock has technical support in the $46-$50 price range. If the shares can firm up, we see near-term overhead resistance around the $66-$67 levels. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Valmont is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com DARST Rating of 2.8 out of 5 stars.

Citigroup Posts Better-Than-Expected First-Quarter Loss of $966 Million

Troubled banking giant Citigroup ( C) reported a better-than-expected first-quarter loss Friday morning, as the company's cost-cutting measures, investment banking and trading successes helped assuage its losses.

The New York City-based company posted a fiscal first-quarter loss of $966 million, or 18 cents per share, up from a loss of $5.19 billion, or $1.03 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue nearly doubled from the year-ago period to $24.79 billion.

On average, Wall Street analysts expected a loss of 30 cents per share on revenue of $21.73 billion.

Citigroup, which has to date received $45 billion in federal bailout money, said that the most recent quarter included $10.3 billion in credit costs, up 76% from a year ago. The company said that its North American credit card operations posted a loss in the quarter.

Citigroup stock opened higher Friday, before falling 25 cents, or 6.5% by mid-morning.

We have avoided shares of Citigroup since our June coverage began, when the stock was trading at $20.06. The company has a 1% dividend yield, based on last night's closing stock price of $4.01. The stock has technical support in the $2 price area. If the shares continue their recent run-up, we see overhead resistance around the $5.50-$7 price levels. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Citigroup is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com DARST Rating of 2.3 out of 5 stars.

BB&T First-Quarter Profit Fall 26%, but Still Beats Estimates

Major regional bank BB&T ( BBT) said Friday that despite a 26% drop in first-quarter profits, it still easily beat analyst EPS expectations.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company said its fiscal first-quarter profit was $271 million, or 48 cents per share, down from $428 million, or 78 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

On average, Wall Street analysts expected profits of 32 cents per share.

The company said that it set aside $676 million for credit losses in the quarter, which is triple the amount it allotted in the same period last year. Housing-related losses drove the credit weakness, specifically in Washington, D.C., Florida and Georgia.

To date, BB&T has accepted $3.1 billion in bailout money from the federal TARP program, and many remain skeptical about its ability to continue to pay its $1.88 annual dividend. The company said it will evaluate its dividend payout, and consider a cut, with the goals of remaining well-capitalized and paying back its government loans.

BB&T shares rose $2.51, or 11.8%, in morning trading Friday.

We removed shares of BBT from our "Recommended" list on Oct. 9, when the stock was trading at $33.01. The company has a dividend yield of 8.92%, based on last night's closing stock price of $21.07. As we said earlier, the prospects for a dividend cut is high. The stock has technical support in the $14-$16 price area. If the shares can hold on to recent gains, we see overhead resistance around the $23-$25 price levels. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

BB&T is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com DARST Rating of 2.8 out of 5 stars.

Mattel Shares Rally Depsite First-Quarter Loss

Shares of Mattel ( MAT) are up nearly 11% in late-morning trading, despite the company reporting a first-quarter loss of $51 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with a loss of $46.6 million, or 13 cents per share, a year ago.

The company said revenue fell 15% to $785.6 million from $919.3 million last year, and slightly below analyst expectations. Sales of Barbie fell 5%, with the strong dollar adding to the weaker results.

Management said retailer inventory reductions also hurt sales, but the company has made good progress on several strategically important fronts, and will continue to manage costs and expenses in light of expected revenue challenges.

We had removed shares of MAT from our "Recommended" list on Oct. 6, when the stock traded at $17.53. The company has a 5.76% dividend yield, based on Friday's closing stock price of $13.03. The next area of technical support for the shares are in the $9.50-$10 price area. If the shares can continue today's rebound, we see overhead resistance in the $16.50-$17 price range. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Mattel is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com DARST Rating of 3.2 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 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.

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