OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada added 378,200 jobs in September and the unemployment rate fell to 9.0%, handily beating analyst expectations, as children returned to school and the economy continued to reopen from coronavirus shutdowns, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had predicted a gain of 156,600 jobs and for the unemployment rate to fall to 9.7% from 10.2% in August.

The gain brought employment to within 720,000 of its pre-pandemic level, Statscan said.

“It’s a good number. It’s very encouraging that we didn’t decelerate in September,” said Andrew Kelvin, chief Canada strategist at TD Securities.

The Canadian dollar strengthened to a three-week high at 1.3132 to the greenback, or 76.15 U.S. cents.

Full-time employment rose by 334,000 and compared with 44,200 new part-time positions. Employment in the goods-producing sector grew by 75,100 jobs, while the services sector grew by 303,100 positions.

Black Canadians saw big employment gains, with their jobless rate falling 5.9 percentage points to 11.7%, while the unemployment rate for Filipino Canadians fell to 8.5%, Statscan data showed. The white jobless rate was 7%.

Employment in educational services rose by 5% in September, as students returned to school and staffing levels were adjusted to support COVID-19 classroom changes.

That helped boost employment for mothers with children under the age of 18, bringing employment levels for both mothers and fathers in line with February.

However, more mothers continued to work less than half their usual hours than fathers, with hours lost due to both personal reasons, like child care demands, and reduced shifts.

And with COVID-19 cases surging in Canada, leading to fresh restrictions in the most populous provinces, economists warned there were major headwinds on the horizon for the coming months.

“I would be shocked if job growth didn’t slow in the next couple

Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. LW reported first-quarter fiscal 2021 results, wherein both top and bottom lines declined year over year and the former fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Results were affected by lower demand due to the adverse impact of the pandemic on traffic at restaurants and other foodservice channels. Also, higher pandemic-related costs have been a deterrent.

Nonetheless, sales and earnings improved sequentially and the company is positive about the improvement in traffic at restaurants in the United States and core international markets. In the United States, demand stabilized in the latter part of the first quarter and also in September, thanks to a rebound in quick-service restaurants, increased deliveries and improved trends at full-service restaurants as curbs on pandemic-led restrictions are being lifted. However, demand remains below pre-pandemic levels. Retail demand for branded products remained steady, though lower than its peak in the initial weeks of the virus outbreak. Overall pricing has been stable.

Quarter in Detail

The company’s earnings of 61 cents per share declined 23% year over year due to soft sales and lower gross profit. The bottom line, however, easily surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 30 cents per share.

Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. Quote

Net sales came in at $871.5 million, which tumbled 12% year on year and missed the consensus mark of $878 million. Volumes fell 14% year over year due to a decline in demand for frozen potato products in the away-from-home channel due to restrictions on restaurants and other foodservice operations to curb the coronavirus spread. Nevertheless, higher at-home consumption of frozen potato products amid the pandemic offered some respite. Notably, the price/mix rose 2% on the back of improvement in the Retail and

PepsiCo, Inc. PEP has reported strong third-quarter 2020 results, wherein earnings and sales surpassed estimates and improved year over year as well. Despite continued challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the company’s robust third quarter performance was backed by its resilience and strength in the global snacks and foods business as well as improvement in the beverage category.

The company also gained from its strong portfolio of brands, a responsive supply chain and flexible go-to-market systems, which helped maintain continued supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have inched up 1.4% year to date against the industry’s 8.5% decline.

Quarter in Detail

PepsiCo’s third-quarter core EPS of $1.66 beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.48 and also increased 6.4% year over year. In constant currency, core earnings were up9% from the year-ago period. The company’s reported EPS of $1.65rose 10% year over year.

PepsiCo, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

PepsiCo, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

PepsiCo, Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | PepsiCo, Inc. Quote

Net revenues of $18,091 million improved 5.3% year over year and also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $17,288 million. On an organic basis, revenues grew 4.2% year over year. Foreign currency impacted revenues and earnings by 2% and 3%, respectively, in the third quarter. Revenues benefited from continued momentum in snacking category as well as gains in beverage business.

Revenues also reflected gains from strong volume growth and robust pricing during the quarter. Total volume increased 2% in the reported quarter. Notably, organic volume for snacks/food business improved 4% while it slipped2% for the beverage business. Meanwhile, net pricing climbed 3% in the third quarter, driven by strong pricing across almost all segments, except AMESA.

On a consolidated basis, reported gross margin contracted 32 basis points (bps) while core gross margin declined60 bps. Reported operating margin

United Natural Foods, Inc. UNFI reported fourth-quarter fiscal 2020 results, with the top and the bottom line surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Moreover, earnings and sales increased on a year-over-year basis.

Q4 in Detail

United Natural’s adjusted earnings of $1.06 per share comfortably surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 71 cents. Further, the bottom line rose significantly from 35 cents in the year-ago quarter. The year-over-year surge can be attributed to greater net sales as well as improved gross margin.

Net sales from continuing operations came in at $6,754.6 million, outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $6,604.6 million. Sales inched up 0.4% year over year. On a comparable 13-week basis, sales advanced 8% year over year. Sales growth was backed by robust consumer demand and gains from cross selling.

Meanwhile, the company’s gross margin expanded 41 basis points to 14.81%. The upside was driven by greater contribution from robust retail business coupled with reduced promotional activities.

Adjusted operating income came in at $116 million in the quarter, up from $74.7 million reported in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted operating margin increased from 1.11% to 1.72% of net sales, courtesy of higher net sales, increased gross margin as well as fixed operating and administrative expense leverage over higher sales. Also, benefits of synergy and integration efforts were a reason. This was partly affected by COVID-19-related costs. Incidentally, COVID-19-related incremental costs amounted to $30.7 million in the quarter.

Adjusted EBITDA jumped 19.3% to $197.9 million, thanks to improved sales, cost leverage and synergy gains. Results were partly affected by COVID-19-related costs.

United Natural Foods, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

United Natural Foods, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

United Natural Foods, Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | United Natural Foods, Inc. Quote

Segment Sales

From a channel point of view, Supernatural net sales declined 3.9% year over year (up 3.6% on a comparable 13-week

Delta Air Lines Inc DAL plans to retire some of its aircraft earlier than scheduled as part of its fleet-simplification strategy, aimed at modernizing the carrier’s fleet, enhancing customer experience as well as generating cost savings. To this end, the airline has decided to retire its Boeing 717-200 aircraft and the remainder of its 767-300ER aircraft by December 2025. It also plans to retire its CRJ-200 aircraft by December 2023.

Consequently, Delta expects to record non-cash impairment charges between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, before tax in the third quarter of 2020, associated with the retirement of these aircraft. The carrier may continue to consider such early aircraft-retirement opportunities to streamline its fleet.

Apart from the charges associated with retirement of aircraft, the carrier expects to record a charge of $2.7-$3.3 billion, before tax, in the third quarter, in connection with its voluntary early retirement and separation programs. Amid coronavirus-induced weak air-travel demand, the carrier has warned of several pilot furloughs post Sep 30, 2020, i.e, when the federal aid to cover airlines’ payroll expenses expires. However, to reduce the number of furloughs, the airline offered its employees voluntary early retirement and separation options. In fact, Delta expects to be able to avoid involuntary furloughs for its frontline employees, except for pilots, on Oct 1, thanks to a large number of employees opting for voluntary-separation programs.

Delta Air Lines, Inc. Price

Delta Air Lines, Inc. Price

Delta Air Lines, Inc. price | Delta Air Lines, Inc. Quote

 

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Delta carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader Transportation sector are JB Hunt Transport Services Inc JBHT, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc KNX and Expeditors International of Washington Inc EXPD, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong