EARNINGS AND THE ECONOMY: CEOs see distress, hope

By REUTERS

July 15, 2010 Updated Apr 9, 2009 at 8:01 PM CDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some indicators suggest the
U.S. economy may be starting to stabilize amid its deepest
recession for many years. But what are the nation's top
executives seeing as they report quarterly earnings? Below,
find a compilation of comments from the past 72 hours.

"The main story is that traditional banking businesses and
the mortgage banking businesses were very solid." -- Wells
Fargo & Co Chief Financial Officer Howard Atkins after
the bank announced a record first-quarter profit.

"In the U.S., we are seeing the first signs of markets
stabilizing at lower levels." -- Alcoa Inc CEO Klaus
Kleinfeld.

"We are very close to a bottom, and the fourth quarter of
last year and the first quarter of this year will probably be
the most disappointing." -- Harold McGraw, The Business
Roundtable Chairman and chief executive of publisher
McGraw-Hill Cos, after publishing a gloomy quarterly
survey based on polling of 100 U.S. CEOs.

"I have to apologize for how badly I have missed this
forecast." -- Emerson Electric Co CEO David Farr, after
the diversified manufacturer cut its fiscal 2009 profit
forecast. "Economic times have been very unpredictable. The
last 65, 75 days we have seen a dramatic freefall."

"Year-to-date rail loadings in North America are down 16.3
percent, and it is estimated that about 20 percent to 25
percent of North American railcar fleet is currently idle, as
manufacturers worldwide drastically reduce or halt production."
-- William Furman, CEO of railway equipment supplier Greenbrier
Cos Inc.

"Today families of all incomes are looking for ways to save
money and our strategy of providing both value and convenience
continues to resonate well with budget-minded consumers." --
Family Dollar Stores Inc CEO Howard Levine.

"The strongest-performing department during March was baby
girl, followed by newborn, baby boy, kid boy, accessories and
kid girl." -- Jeff Harris, vice president of finance at
children's clothing retailer Gymboree Corp.

"We suspect that as this year progresses, it will get
increasingly better." -- Michael Niemira, chief economist at
the International Council of Shopping Centers.
(Reporting by Martin Howell; Editing by Gary Hill)

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