By Dow Jones Business News, September 13, 2013, 03:11:00 PM EDT
By Ben Fox Rubin
Small groupings of retail, tech and consumer foods companies will be reporting quarterly results next week, with a few
major names like FedEx Corp. ( FDX ) and Oracle Corp. ( ORCL ) providing a little excitement in an otherwise quiet time for
More significant news could be coming from the Federal Reserve, as the Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting is
slated for next week.
Oracle, FedEx, General Mills, ConAgra Reporting
Oracle in June posted another disappointing quarter, as revenue growth again stalled and the software company's newer
computer business continued to decline. For its fiscal first quarter, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predict Oracle
will report a 3% rise in revenue and a 6% rise in per-share earnings.
Meanwhile, FedEx, the world's largest air-cargo company, has been grappling with a shift by international shipping
customers away from priority services to cheaper options. The company, which recently issued a muted financial outlook,
has worked to cut costs by grounding flights between Asia and the U.S. and reducing employee numbers. Still, the company
is expected to post just a 2% increase in revenue for its fiscal first quarter on Wednesday and a 4% increase in per-
General Mills Inc. ( GIS ), the maker of Cheerios cereal and Betty Crocker baking products, has posted stronger profits
in recent quarters, thanks in part to overseas acquisitions and improving results in its home market. Both per-share
earnings and revenue are expected to grow by 6% in its fiscal first-quarter, coming out Wednesday. Packaged-foods
company ConAgra Foods Inc. ( CAG ), which this week cut its full-year earnings outlook, will report Thursday.
More Earnings to Watch
Retailers Pier 1 Imports Inc. ( PIR ) and Rite Aid Corp. ( RAD ), restaurant-chain operators Darden Restaurants Inc. ( DRI )
and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. ( CBRL ), and software firm Adobe Systems Inc. ( ADBE ) are set to report
throughout the week.
Also, beauty-products maker Coty Inc. ( COTY ), which went public in June, will report results for the first time as a
newly public company.
Economists Expect Tapering Announcement from Fed
A majority of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal--66% of the 47 who responded--expect the Fed to say at
next week's policy meeting that it will start cutting back its bond purchases, a widely anticipated milestone.
Despite weeks of talk about "tapering," nearly 40% of the surveyed economists don't think markets have fully priced in
a move in September. Any reduction in the program could roil the economy's slow recovery and weaken stock prices, which
have risen sharply this year.
The Fed first announced its most recent round of quantitative easing -- bond purchases aimed at boosting growth--in
September 2012, and it has been buying $85 billion a month since January.
The economy has added more than 180,000 jobs a month on average since the program was launched and the unemployment
rate has fallen to 7.3% from 7.9% during that time.
Many IPOs Coming
Tech firm Rocket Fuel Inc., which focuses on analyzing consumer data for the digital ad market, and IT security
company FireEye Inc. are expected to go public next week, among a big set of initial public offerings expected to come
Others include Fate Therapeutics Inc., Benefitfocus Inc. and Acceleron Pharma Inc.
-Phil Izzo contributed to this report.
Write to Ben Fox Rubin at email@example.com
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