99 Cents Only CFO Resigns
City of Commerce, Calif., 99 Cents Only Stores today said its CFO, Jim Ritter, has resigned to pursue other opportunities. Ritter’s resignation, effective immediately, is one of three resignations announced today. Ben Schwartz, a long-standing board member, and Howard Gold, the founder’s son and executive officer of the company, have stepped down from the board following discussions with the New York Stock Exchange related to independence requirements. Due to payments made by the company to a business owned by his son, Schwartz could not be considered independent. According to the company, Gold quit the board to fulfill the NYSE requirement for a majority of independent directors.
Frank’s Nursery & Crafts Files Reorganization Plan
Troy, Mich., Frank’s Nursery & Crafts announced the filing of its proposed plan of reorganization in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2004. Frank’s has concluded the wind-down of its store operations by completing going-out-of-business sales at its locations and has also sold or rejected substantially all of its leasehold interests.
Kroger Reported to Consider Winn-Dixie Buy
Cincinnati, Kroger Co. may be considering making a play for a large chunk of Winn-Dixie, according to a report in the South Florida Business Journal. Kroger would serve as a supplier to a portion of the bankrupt supermarket operator’s 900-plus supermarkets at first. Eventually, it would take over Winn-Dixie’s operations in northern Florida and other states, the report said, with Winn-Dixie retaining a core group of stores in southern and central Florida.
In other news, Kroger reported wider fourth-quarter losses due to a hefty impairment charge related to the company’s Ralph’s and Food 4 Les chains. Quarterly losses totaled $675.9 million, or 93? per share, including a goodwill impairment charge of $884 million, or $1.21 per share. In the year-ago period, Kroger reported a loss of $337.4 million, or 45? per share, including charges of $663.1 million, or 89? per share. Total sales increased 5.1% to $13.7 billion from $13.03 billion last year.
Looking ahead, Kroger expects 2005 net income to exceed $1.16 per share, excluding the effect of the goodwill impairment charge. Kroger expects its earnings growth to be fueled by improved results in Southern California and lower interest expense.