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Abercrombie Q4 earnings nearly double

BY CSA STAFF

New Albany, Ohio — Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s fiscal fourth-quarter net income nearly doubled on strong sales overseas and better U.S. results. The retailer reported net income of $92.6 million, up from $47.5 million a year ago.

Revenue for the period ended Jan. 29 rose 23% to $1.15 billion, from $936 million. Domestic revenue rose 13%, while international revenue jumped 61%.

Same-store sales rose 13%.

"We finished the year with strong domestic sales growth and continued to see very strong results in Europe," CEO and chairman Mike Jeffries said in a statement.

Same-store sales at Abercrombie & Fitch rose 13%, while Abercrombie kids stores had a 9% increase. Hollister Co.’s same-store sales also gained 13%.

Abercrombie said that its full-year earnings surged to $150.3 million in the prior year.

Annual revenue increased 18% to $3.47 billion from $2.93 billion, while same-store sales rose 7%.

The retailer continues to push forward with its overseas expansion. It plans to open Abercrombie & Fitch flagship stores in Paris; Madrid; Dusseldorf, Germany; Brussels; Dublin; and Singapore in fiscal 2011. It also expects to open 30 to 40 Hollister stores in overseas malls.

The company anticipates a "minimal number" of stores opening in the United States, with about 50 domestic locations likely to close during the fiscal year.

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Office Max swings to profit in Q4 on cost controls

BY CSA STAFF

Naperville, Ill. — OfficeMax swung to a fourth-quarter profit as the company retailer continued to cut costs, though sales declined in both its contract and retail segments.

OfficeMax reported earnings of $12.7 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $2.58 million. Revenue decreased 2.4% to $1.77 billion. The chain expects sales to be flat for 2011.

“To date in 2011, we have experienced a variety of challenges for our business including adverse weather conditions, heightened promotional activity, and a lack of favorable economic conditions, and we anticipate that some of these challenges may persist," CFO Bruce Besanko said.

For the full year, total sales decreased 0.9% to $7.1 billion. It reported net income of $68.6 million.

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Battle to end North Dakota’s restrictions on pharmacy ownership continues

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Months after a voter initiative to abolish North Dakota’s strict restrictions on pharmacy ownership foundered, the long-running debate resumed Tuesday in the state’s legislature, the Associated Press reported.

North Dakota is the only state in the nation that requires pharmacists to have majority ownership of most pharmacies. The law prevents major retailers, such as Wal-Mart Stores, from operating pharmacies in their own stores.

The latest attempt to repeal the ownership restrictions is being sponsored by Rep. Thomas Beadle, R-Fargo, who said he was not doing so at the behest of large retailers, many of whom have lobbied in the past to end the restrictions.

"I’m not arguing that we ought to prefer chain stores over independent retailers," Beadle said. "I’m arguing the citizens have the right to choose for themselves wherever they feel is best."

The North Dakota House’s Industry, Business and Labor Committee took no action on the bill after holding a four-hour hearing Tuesday.

North Dakota’s law has been in place since 1963, surviving a number of repeal attempts and a legal challenge that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two years ago, the House defeated repeal legislation despite a high-profile organizing and lobbying effort backed by Wal-Mart and other large retailers.

An array of pharmacy organizations supported the law, which they said makes North Dakota the envy of pharmacists across the country.

Pharmacies operating when the law passed in 1963 can operate without the restrictions, and some have passed on their permits through changes in ownership. Several CVS pharmacies in the state still operate under the exception.

The law also allows grocery stores and other businesses to lease space to independent pharmacies, and own up to 49% of the pharmacy.

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