FINANCE

February retail sales show biggest gain in four months

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — U.S. retail sales rose 1% in February, boosted by job gains, the tax cut and more seasonable temperatures, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It was the highest gain in four months. Sales excluding autos increased 0.7%.

The 1% increase followed a revised 0.7% rise in January that was more than double the previous estimate, according to Commerce Department figures.

Ten-of-13 major categories showed an increase in demand last month, which included gains at department stores and electronics retailers. Department store sales increased 1% after a 0.4% decrease in January. Sales at specialty clothing stores rose 0.8%. Purchases at stores selling electronics and appliances rose 0.9% after a 0.2% drop. Sales at restaurants climbed 1.2% the most in a year.

Online shopping, which had benefited from the bad weather in January, showed a 0.3% dip in February.

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FINANCE

99 Cents Only Stores gets buyout offer from founders, Leonard Green

BY CSA STAFF

City of Commerce, Calif. — Discount store retailer 99 Cents Only Stores has received a proposal to take the company private from the company’s founding family and investment firm Leonard Green & Partners LP for $19.09 per share, the Associated Press reported.

The offer would value the company at about $1.3 billion. According to 99 Cents, the purchasers would include the Schiffer-Gold family, which owns about 33% of its outstanding stock. David Gold is company founder and chairman, and his son-in-law Eric Schiffer is CEO.

In a letter sent to the company, the family indicated that it is ready to contribute a "substantial portion" of its existing stock ownership as part of the proposed acquisition. The letter also says the family has not made any commitment of exclusivity with Leonard Green related to the proposal.

99 Cents said its board has yet to evaluate the proposal and that there is no guarantee a definitive offer will be made.

The Commerce, Calif., company said it expects to create a special committee comprised of independent board members to assess the bid.

Leonard Green has been active in the retail space of late.. It was part of the $3 billion J. Crew buyout, along with TPG Capital, that closed on Monday. It has also offered $1.6 billion for Jo-Ann Stores Inc. and has reportedly expressed interest in BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc.

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Hibbett Sports Q4 profit up; 50 to 55 new stores on tap for 2011

BY CSA STAFF

Birmingham, Ala. — Hibbett Sports said Friday that its fiscal fourth-quarter net income climbed 6% on higher sales. The sporting goods retailer also predicts its fiscal 2012 earnings will be in line with Wall Street’s view.

Hibbett Sports reported net income of $12.5 million for the period ended Jan. 29, up from $11.8 million a year earlier, better than Wall Street expected.

Revenue rose 4% to $173.2 million from $166.8 million, but fell short of Wall Street’s estimate of $174.2 million. Same-store sales rose 1.2%.

Full-year earnings climbed 43% to $46.4 million, from $32.5 million in the prior year.

Annual revenue increased 12% to $665 million from $593.5 million. Same-store sales rose 9.8%.

Hibbett Sports had 798 stores in 26 states as of Jan. 29. It plans to open 50 to 55 new stores, close 10 to 15 stores and expand approximately 15 high performing stores in fiscal 2012.

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