FINANCE

Gap Downgraded

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Merrill Lynch cut its rating on Gap Inc. from “Buy” to “Neutral,” and suggested the retailer may have a tough time improving earnings after disappointing sales in August. San Francisco-based Gap has reported a string of negative monthly comp-store sales that dates back to October.

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FINANCE

Bed Bath & Beyond Finds Financial Success

BY CSA STAFF

Union, N.J., Housewares retailer Bed Bath & Beyond has exceeded financial expectations for 52 consecutive quarters. The company plans to continue this trend by opening 500 stores in the next five to seven years. It expects to open 85 of those stores this fiscal year, which ends in February 2006.

Currently, the company has 675 Bed Bath & Beyond stores and 35 Harmon stores. The company acquired Christmas Tree Shops, a chain of 26 stores, last year.

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FINANCE

Sports Authority Shows Growth

BY CSA STAFF

Englewood, Colo., The Sports Authority reported net income for the second quarter was $14.2 million, compared to $6.8 million in the same quarter last year. Total sales for the second quarter were $617.0 million compared with $605.0 million in the prior year’s second quarter, an increase of $12.0 million, or 2.0%. Second-quarter comparable-store sales for the company increased 0.2%.

Doug Morton, CEO, commented, “We exceeded earnings expectations for the second quarter driven by improvements in gross margin and effective management of our operating expenses.”

The company opened one store and closed two stores during the second quarter. As of July 30, it had 392 stores in 45 states.

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