FINANCE

Cost Plus Sales Slip in 3Q

BY CSA STAFF

Oakland, Calif. Cost Plus reported net sales for its third quarter were $213.0 million, a 0.8% decrease from the $214.6 million for the third quarter ended Nov. 3, 2007.

Customer count and conversion continued to increase for the third consecutive quarter, although same-store sales decreased 3.4% due to a reduction in the average ticket, the company said.

Cost Plus reported a third-quarter loss of $22.6 million from continuing operations before interest and taxes which was in the mid-range of its guidance and which compares to a $19.2 million loss for the third quarter of last year.

Net loss from continuing operations for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 was $25.7 million compared to a net loss of $13.3 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2007, an increase in the net loss of $12.3 million. Included in the results for third quarter of fiscal 2007 is an income tax benefit of $9.2 million.

Year-to-date net sales were $645.6 million, a 3.1% increase compared to the same period last year. Same-store sales declined 0.6%, which was the result of a reduction in the average ticket, the company said.

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Walmart to partner with Feeding America

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart announced that its supercenters and Neighborhood Markets will partner with Feeding America, the nation’s largest charitable hunger-relief organization, to provide an estimated 90 million pounds of food annually — the equivalent of 70 million meals — to families in need by the end of 2009.

In addition, the Wal-Mart Foundation announced a $2.5 million cash donation to Feeding America. These funds will be used to help Feeding America food banks improve warehouse capacity and purchase 20 new refrigerated trucks to safely transport food from Walmart stores to food pantries, soup kitchens and other Feeding America agencies.

“We are pleased to partner with Feeding America during a time of nearly unprecedented need and provide nutritious meals for their families,” said Bill Simon, evp and coo of Walmart U.S. “Given the current state of the economy and the increased burden on neighborhood food pantries and soup kitchens, we are enlisting our entire network of stores and clubs to participate in this food donation program to provide relief to communities throughout the country.”

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Despite 3Q growth, Ross cautious on 4Q outlook

BY CSA STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. Ross Stores reported that earnings per share for the third quarter increased 22% to 44 cents, from 36 cents for the same period last year. Net earnings for the third quarter were $57.3 million, up from $48.7 million for the third quarter last year. Fiscal 2008 third quarter sales increased 6% to $1.555 billion, with comparable-store sales even with the prior year period.

Michael Balmuth, vice chairman, president and ceo, commented, “We are pleased with our solid third quarter earnings growth, especially considering the very challenging macro-economic and retail environment. The ongoing resilience and flexibility of our off-price business model enabled us to respond to these external pressures by further reducing both inventories and expenses. These actions, along with better-than-expected shortage results from our annual physical inventory during the quarter, enabled us to protect profit margins and deliver earnings per share at the high end of our original guidance.”

Ross said it now expects fourth quarter comparable-store sales to decline 1% to 3% and earnings per share to be in the range of 69 cents to 75 cents, compared to 70 cents in the 2007 fourth quarter.

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