Bed Bath & Beyond peeled back the curtain on Wednesday, but then the shower rod fell down. The home goods retailer posted disappointing quarterly results for its fiscal second quarter, despite net sales that climbed by a better than expected 12%.
Once again, profit reports are expected to be a tale of strong profit growth, thanks more to cost cuts than revenue gains. And perhaps even more telling, fourth-quarter 2010 earnings are competing with downright dismal reports for the year-earlier period.
Stocks kicked off the final quarter of the year with moderate gains Friday as more encouraging data on consumer spending, consumer sentiment and auto sales were partly offset by a slowdown in manufacturing activity.