FINANCE

Harris Teeter posts strong Q3 results

BY CSA STAFF

Charlotte, N.C. Ruddick Corp., owner of Harris Teeter, reported third-quarter consolidated results on Tuesday.

Consolidated sales for the quarter ended June 28 increased by 1.1% to $1.02 billion. The increase was attributable to sales increases at Harris Teeter, the company said, that were partially offset by sales declines at American & Efird, the company’s sewing thread and technical textiles subsidiary.

Ruddick reported that consolidated net income in the third quarter of fiscal 2009 was $16.5 million, compared with $24.5 million in the year-ago period.

Harris Teeter sales increased by 4.1% to $964.2 million in the third quarter, compared with sales of $926.3 million a year ago.

During the first three quarters of fiscal 2009, Harris Teeter opened 11 new stores, closed one existing store (which was replaced by a new store) and completed the major remodeling of two stores.

Since the third quarter of fiscal 2008, Harris Teeter has opened 14 new stores while closing two stores for a net addition of 12 stores, giving it a total of 186 stores at the end of June.

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Did sales heat up in July?

BY CSA STAFF

July sales results due out later this week from Target are likely to be somewhat anticlimactic. The company already told analysts last month that it would meet or exceed earnings estimates that were in place at the time, and second-quarter results for the period ended July 31 are scheduled for release in two weeks on August 18. Nevertheless, the July figures should provide valuable insight on a number of levels. For starters, there is the issue of the effectiveness of Target’s strategy to generate customer traffic through an ongoing, but recently heightened, promotional emphasis on food and consumables that is designed to allay shoppers concerns regarding Target’s prices.

Last month, Target’s same-store sales declined 6.2%, as fewer people shopped its stores and those who did spent less, so trends regarding customers traffic and average transaction size will be watched closely. Also instructive will be comments regarding the early pace of sales for the back-to-school season and expectations of seasonal sales during the remainder of August. Of course, the most closely watched metric will be same-store sales, which are expected to be negative, but a low-single-digit decline would be seen as a victory of sorts since earlier guidance and analysts’ expectations call for a mid-single-digit drop. Either way, the numbers will require some explaining on the part of executives because they will be compared to a prior-year period when consumers benefitted from economic stimulus checks, but at the same time were paying nearly $4 a gallon prices for gas. Then there is the issue of the credit card business and insight Target executives offer regarding repayment trends and whether consumers are paying their bills on time.

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Tapping former Target talent

BY CSA STAFF

Pier 1 Imports has secured the merchandising services of former Target executive Catherine David, who joined the Fort Worth-based retailer as EVP merchandising. David Spent 13 years at Target, and when she left the company was VP and general manager of Target Direct. However, she’s held several jobs in the interim, including most recently serving as president and COO for Kirkland’s and prior to that held VP and general manager positions with Sears Essentials, Sears Grand and The Great Indoors. She also serve as president of the Burnes Group, a photo frame and accessories supplier.

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