FINANCE

Ann Inc. Q4 profit tops Street; launching international shipping

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Ann Inc., parent of Ann Taylor and Loft, said Friday that its fourth-quarter profit rose to a better-than-expected $2.37 million from $2.18 million a year earlier.

Sales rose 7.2% to $607.7 million. Total company store- sales for the quarter decreased 0.7%. By brand, same-store sales increased 1.4% across the Ann Taylor brand and fell 2.1% across the Loft brand.

“For the fourth quarter, as previously reported, the results reflected the negative impact of Superstorm Sandy and disappointing performance at Loft due to an investment in bright colors that did not resonate with our client during the Holiday season,” said president and CEO Kay Krill. “At Ann Taylor, the brand continued to show meaningful progress during the quarter, delivering higher sales and profitability. We also achieved profitable growth in the outlet channel, as Ann Taylor Factory and Loft Outlet delivered stronger bottom-line results versus the fourth quarter of 2011, despite lower comparable sales.”

Total net sales for the full year of fiscal 2012 were $2.4 billion, compared with net sales of $2.2 billion in fiscal 2011. Total same-store sales for the full year increased 3.3%.

Separately, the retailer announced the launch of international shipping on its e-commerce sites, Anntaylor.com and Loft.com.

"The introduction of international shipping marks another key step forward as we continue to grow our e-commerce business and expand the global reach of our Ann Taylor and Loft brands," said Krill. “In addition, selling internationally through e-commerce will provide us with further insights to gauge future growth opportunities outside of the U.S."

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FINANCE

Foot Locker Q4 profit up on higher sales

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Foot Locker Inc. on Friday said its fourth quarter profit rose to $104 million from $81 million a year earlier.

Sales jumped 14% to $1.71 billion, including the benefit of an extra week. Same-store sales rose 7.9%.

For fiscal year 2012, which included 53 weeks, the company reported net income of $397 million, compared to $278 million a year earlier.

Total sales increased 9.9% in 2012 to $6.182 million, compared with sales of $5.623 million last year. Same-store sales were up 9.4% in 2012.

"With the momentum we built from executing our strategic initiatives, the team at Foot Locker, Inc. was able to drive our sales and profits substantially higher than last year’s record results," said Ken C. Hicks, chairman and CEO of Foot Locker, Inc. "We believe that we can continue to build on this momentum and deliver a double digit percentage earnings per share gain for full-year 2013, compared to our 2012 non-GAAP results of $2.47 per share."

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OPERATIONS

Judge orders Macy’s, Penney, Martha Stewart into mediation

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — After nearly three weeks of testimony, a New York State Supreme Court Judge ordered Macy’s, J.C. Penney Co. and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia into mediation to try and reach a settlement in their contract dispute trial.

If the three companies do not reach an agreement before April 8, the judge will resume hearing the case.

In another development in the ongoing dispute, Penney agreed not to sell certain Martha Stewart-designed goods (products deemed exclusive to Macy’s) until at least April 8.

Also, Stewart and Macy’s CEO Lundgren had "a productive conversation regarding the ongoing contract dispute," Martha Stewart Living said in statement released prior to the judge’s order for mediation. It was the first time that the two former friends had spoken to each other since December 2011, when Lundgren testified he hung up on Stewart after she called to tell him about the deal.

"We view today’s actions as a positive step forward and welcome a prompt and fair resolution," the statement added.

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