OPERATIONS

Confidence up in April

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Consumers grew more confident in April amid job gains and slightly declining gas prices. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment increased to a three-month high of 74.3 from 69.8 in April.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the index to be unchanged from the preliminary figure. At the same time, income expectations remained at low levels.

"Sagging real incomes have made consumers more cautious spenders, with rising gas prices especially troublesome for younger and lower income households," Richard Curtin, director of the survey, said in a statement. “The data continue to indicate the maintenance of a moderate pace of consumer spending during the balance of 2011."

The Michigan survey’s current conditions gauge, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether they consider it a good time to buy big-ticket items like cars, decreased to 81.9 from 82.5 the prior month.

Consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, of consumer spending rose to 69.5, the highest since February, from 61.6, the confidence report showed.

The survey’s gauge of consumer expectations jumped to 69.5 from April’s 61.6. It also came in above a predicted reading of 67.5.

The survey’s barometer of current economic conditions was 81.9, slipping from April’s 82.5 but topping forecasts of 80.2.

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FINANCE

Syms considers possible sale

BY CSA STAFF

Secaucus, N.J. — Syms Corp. said Thursday it is mulling selling itself and other strategic alternatives as the company continues to struggle after acquiring Filene’s Basement in 2009.

The off-price retailer, which bought Filene’s out of bankruptcy for $62.4 million in 2Q 2009, said its board is currently evaluating its options. It reported a loss at the end of its fiscal year in February, and losses had widened as of earlier this month.

Rothschild Inc. is serving as advisor in the evaluation process. Syms said it will not comment further until either a transaction is approved or the review process concludes.

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FINANCE

HHGregg 4Q profit surges 46%, slows new store growth

BY CSA STAFF

Indianapolis— Electronics and appliances retailer hhgregg Inc. said Thursday that its profit leaped 46% in its fiscal 4Q, to $14.6 million from $10 million in the year-ago period. However, same-store sales tumbled nearly 11% in the company, and the company said it will slow the pace at which it opens new stores in the next fiscal year. Previously, it expected to open 35 to 45 stores in the next year, but now cut the upper range to 40 stores.

Revenue for the quarter climbed 22% to $507 million, helped by the addition of 42 new stores over the past 12 months.

For the full year, the company earned $48.2 million on $2.08 billion in revenue.

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