HP outlook, economic worries trigger sell-off

NEW YORK -- A lower earnings forecast by tech giant Hewlett-Packard and concerns about the economy's strength dragged the Dow Jones industrial average down nearly 70 points Tuesday. Gains in bank and utilities stocks limited the market's overall losses.

HP fell more than 7 percent. The world's largest technology company by revenue lowered its earnings outlook for the rest of the year, partly because of weaker sales of personal computers.

Concerns about the economy's strength helped pull down industrial companies like Caterpillar and Boeing. The Federal Reserve said U.S. factories produced fewer goods in April for the first time in 10 months. If the decline continues, it could cut into the earnings of companies that make industrial equipment.

--The Dow lost 68.79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,479.58.

--The S&P 500 lost 0.49, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,328.98.

--The Nasdaq rose 0.90, also less than 0.1 percent, to 2,783.21.

Southcoast Bank to pay out 10% stock dividend

Shareholders of Southcoast Community Bank's parent company are getting a bump in their holdings. Mount Pleasant-based Southcoast Financial Corp. on Tuesday announced a 10 percent stock dividend for shareholders of record as of June 15. The dividend will be distributed June 29.

The stock is traded on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol "SOCB."

Johns Island real estate agency to be shuttered

St. Johns Properties, a Johns Island-based real estate agency owned by the primary residential developer of Kiawah Island, said today it will cease operations at the end of June.

Kiawah Partners said it is closing the subsidiary to focus on its own sales and on privately listed resales on the gated resort island. St. Johns Properties said in a statement that it will offer affected employees transition assistance. It also said it plans to finalize any real estate closings scheduled before June 30 and transfer all active listings after that date.

The company's website shows it has 11 sales agents.

Dell's profit jumps as PC giant reduces expenses

ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Personal computer maker Dell says its profit nearly tripled during its fiscal first quarter as its revenue inched upward and it cut costs.

For the three months ended April 29, Dell earned $945 million, or 49 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, Dell earned 55 cents a share, easily beating what Wall Street expected.

Revenue rose 1 percent to $15.02 billion, missing analyst estimates for $15.4 billion.

Home Depot's earnings up 12% in first quarter

ATLANTA -- Home Depot Inc.'s fiscal first-quarter net income rose 12 percent even as a slow start to the spring selling season pushed revenue lower. The country's biggest home-improvement retailer also increased its full-year earnings forecast on Tuesday.

Home Depot earned $812 million, or 50 cents a share, for the period ended May 1. This beat the 49 cents per share analysts expected.

Revenue slipped 0.2 percent to $16.82 billion, missing Wall Street's $17.06 billion forecast. Home Depot, based in Atlanta, now expects fiscal 2011 earnings per share of $2.24, up from $2.20.