SOURCE: Bellwether Report

Bellwether Report

June 22, 2010 08:22 ET

The Dynamics of Hope

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA--(Marketwire - June 22, 2010) - -- The U.S. has been experiencing a judicious economic growth with grim forecasts from across the financial professional sphere that this slow-paced trend might endure throughout 2010. While there are numerous macroeconomic factors restraining a quicker economic recovery, one of the most weighing contribution comes from the jobless rate in the country. A consequent decline in the level of unemployment is not likely to be achieved any time soon. Job creation is looking increasingly challenging to produce or stimulate, and a turnaround can only be anticipated if first-time jobless claims fall under 425,000 per week. The latest jobless claims figures posted last week indicate that dismissal is still part of the current U.S. economic environment and has lead to more economic uncertainties according to economists. Then again, consumer confidence as measured by the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index in May has been indicating that consumers are still optimistic of a sustained economic recovery. The index saw another increase last month, making this the third successive monthly boost in consumer confidence.

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Additionally, some encouraging piece of data released at the end of last week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that consumer spending has become easier for the consumers as the rate of change in the price of consumer goods fell by 0.2% in May. Some of the companies that have been doing well in recent months in the home furnishing and fixtures segment of the consumer goods sector are Fortune Brands Inc. (NYSE: FO) and Tempur Pedic International Inc. (NYSE: TPX) amongst others. Fortune Brands has weathered the recession not through its home products, but ironically through the sales of its hard alcohol brands. However, in the first quarter of 2010, the home and security segment of the company came back with a vengeance as it helped in the improvement of earnings, boosting comps by 13%. Fortune Brand is one example of a regain in consumer confidence, as its home and security segment had been a chained iron ball for many years especially during the housing sector slump. Yet, with housing market showing a slight sign of recovery, the company has successfully been able to capitalize on this.

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Another player in this space which has surprisingly been performing extremely well is Tempur Pedic, the mattresses and pillows maker. The company has produced a stunning quarter in the first part of 2010 with earnings at $0.44 per share. It has constantly been pushing its 52-week highs in recent sessions as its sales figures continue to impress investors. Industry experts are quite optimistic when it comes to the company's next quarterly report. Register now at to have free access to these reports.

Whilst the U.S. economy looks ahead towards a darkening horizon, with Europe's woes and China's cheaper exports pressuring fair competition, U.S. consumers try to maintain a certain level of hope. How long will this hope sustain will be answered by the next set of economic reports due at the end of June? 

Visit to see how these companies have grown over the past years and how they will progress in the future. 


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