Indian Outsourcer Has Blowout Quarter, Eyes Chinese Expansion and Restaurant Chain Goes Against The Grain, Ups Quality

The team at Wipro (WIT), India’s No. 3 information technology services provider, knows all about it.

“If you go back six or seven quarters, our customers froze budgets on everything discretionary and even things necessary to the business,” said Manish Dugar, chief financial officer of Wipro Technologies, Wipro’s IT services business.

The climate has gotten warmer amid prospects of positive GDP growth in many countries, says Dugar. The upshot: Clients are more confident and have started spending on what they put on hold, he adds, leading to increased demand for Wipro’s services.

After slipping for three straight quarters, earnings began to grow again in the first quarter ended June 30.

Wipro’s business has been gaining momentum ever since. The Bangalore, India-based outsourcer posted blowout third-quarter results, which it reported overnight before Wednesday’s opening. Earnings per American depositary receipt climbed 19% vs. a year ago to 18 cents, smashing views. [Read the full article]

Look no further than Panera Bread (PNRA) for the recipe. The bakery-cafe chain has kept business sizzling by spicing up the menu with new and improved offerings.

Earnings have climbed by double digits for six straight quarters and sales have done so for eight of the past 11 quarters.

While competitors cut portions and quality, Panera Bread, with 1,380 restaurants, has come up with new offerings.�View�Enlarged�Image

Business stayed piping hot in the fourth quarter. Same-store sales at company-owned bakery cafes surged 7.4% vs. a year ago on a calendar basis, the company reported on Wednesday.

Such sales were up a hefty 9.4% at company-owned outlets in the first 21 days of the January 2010 fiscal month, which started Dec. 30.

Based on the sales strength, Panera raised its fourth-quarter earnings guidance to 94 to 95 cents a share, including 5 cents on nonrecurring charges, from its prior estimate of 85 to 87 cents. [Read the full article]

But they vary on just how much housing starts can ramp up amid high unemployment, low home prices and the dearth of construction financing available to homebuilders.

Housing starts for all home types stood at an annualized 557,000 in December, dipping 4% from November but edging up 0.2% from a year prior, Census data out Wednesday show.

Rain fails to halt home construction Tuesday in Carlsbad, Calif. The dry credit market affects builders more. AP�View�Enlarged�Image

The National Association of Realtors predicts the level of starts will rise to an annual rate of 884,000 by the fourth quarter of 2010. National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist David Crowe sees 700,000 housing starts for the full year. And the UCLA Anderson Forecast’s senior economist, David Shulman, predicts 850,000. [Read the full article]

The IPO ranks among the largest planned so far in 2010, though Thursday the firm cut the number of shares to be issued from 15 million to 10 million, priced at $20 each.

More than 8,000 U.S. properties, worth $170.6 billion, are in foreclosure, bankruptcy or have restructured loans, says Real Capital Analytics. But pickings in the industrial sector are scant. Only 630 properties, worth $5.1 billion, are troubled.

Industrial rents and vacancies are expected to deteriorate as exports face lax demand, says Reis economist Ryan Severino. This could make landlords sell at discounts to raise funds. San Francisco-based Terreno believes it can scoop up the best assets, according to its IPO filing.

CEO Blake Baird was president of industrial REIT AMB Property (AMB). Goldman Sachs (GS) is the underwriter for Terreno, set to trade on the New York Stock Exchange as TRNO.

It’s not the first REIT to smell profit in commercial distress. [Read the full article]

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