Biz Buzz: Dell Profits, Starbucks Heads South, Spending Slows, and Other Business News

Today's business headlines.

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Inflation Checks Consumer Spending

Consumer spending and personal income growth increased only slightly in April, the Commerce Department reported today. Consumer spending was up 0.2 percent, half of its 0.4 percent increase in March. After taking inflation into account, there was essentially no growth. The rate of growth in personal income also was down by half from the previous month; it grew by 0.2 percent in April. The rebate checks that started going out in late April as part of the economic stimulus plan contributed to the increase in personal income.

Kim Palmer of U.S. News counted the ways that cash-strapped consumers can save money on gas.

Dell Shares Soar on Strong Earnings

Shares of computer maker Dell were up strongly in trading this morning after a positive first-quarter report showing profit and revenue growth for the company. Shipments of Dell notebook computers were up 43 percent last quarter, compared with a year earlier. Growth in international markets was a major driver of Dell's revenue growth. Its revenue was up 19 percent in Asia and 15 percent in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Overall revenue increased 9 percent. Quarterly earnings moved up to $784 million, from $756 million in the first quarter of 2007.

Starbucks Brews in Buenos Aires

Starbucks today opened its first store in Argentina. The coffee giant has put a focus on international growth as profits have flagged in U.S. stores. Before this move, Starbucks had locations in seven countries in Latin America, including 18 stores in Brazil. The new store in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, will offer drinks that incorporate traditional local flavors. The president of the company's Latin American division said he hopes to have four stores open in Argentina by year-end.

Emily Brandon has reported on Starbucks's overseas expansion.

Tiffany's Sales and Profits Rise

Jewelry retailer Tiffany saw its profits increase 19 percent in the first quarter, mostly because of sales growth in Asia and Europe. Same-store sales in the United States were unchanged from last year's corresponding quarter, but same-store sales were up 4 percent in the Asia-Pacific region and 12 percent in Europe. Tiffany plans to open 24 more stores this year across all those regions, and it will adopt a smaller format for its U.S. stores.