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Hhgregg estimates 12% net sales drop in Q3

BY Dan Berthiaume

Indianapolis — For the third fiscal quarter of 2014, Hhgregg estimates net sales to be approximately $707.1 million, a decrease of approximately 11.6% as compared to net sales of $799.6 million reported for the third fiscal quarter of 2013.

Third fiscal quarter same-store sales are estimated to have decreased approximately 11.2%, with the appliance category expected to have increased approximately 1.5%, the consumer electronic category expected to have decreased approximately 19.7%, the computing and wireless category expected to have decreased approximately 24.5%, and the home products category expected to have increased approximately 36.1%.

Dennis May, president and CEO of Hhgregg, said poor performance in the consumer electronics and wireless categories led to the third quarter coming in below the company’s expectations. Hhgregg now expects its full fiscal year performance to miss previously stated guidance.

“Our sales of consumer electronics and computing and wireless products were significantly below our expectations during the quarter,” said May. “Our third fiscal quarter, while solidly profitable, is expected to be materially below both our expectations and prior year for diluted earnings per share, driven by the net sales miss. Our holiday sales were significantly impacted by increased promotional offerings of televisions and tablet products across a variety of retail formats. While we are disappointed with these sales results, we made the strategic decision during the quarter not to fully participate in the heavily promotional environment. We did manage our inventory and liquidity position well, with total inventory per store below prior year levels.”

Hhgregg will provide additional information regarding its quarterly results and will update full year guidance when it reports its third fiscal quarter results on Jan. 30.

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Report: Bezos suffers New Year’s Day kidney stone attack

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, reportedly had to be flown from the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador on Jan. 1, 2014 for emergency treatment of a kidney stone attack. According to NBC News, the Ecuadorian navy flew Bezos by helicopter from a cruise ship to his private jet, which then took him to the U.S. treatment.

Amazon.com sources indicated that Bezos did not require surgery and is doing well.

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Overstock.com to appeal advertising ruling

BY Dan Berthiaume

Salt Lake City – Overstock.com plans to appeal the tentative ruling of a California trial court, which prohibits the company from comparison price advertising unless done in conformity with new court-mandated practices, which the company says diverge widely from industry standards.

The court imposed a civil penalty on Overstock.com for each day it used price comparisons that were not in accordance with new practices the court outlined. From March 2006 to September 2008, the court imposed a penalty of $3,500 per day and from September 2008 through September 2013, $2,000 per day, amounting to $6,819,000 in total. The court also allowed the People to apply for payment of such fees and costs as are allowed by law. The company will appeal both the injunction and the amount of the penalty.

Among other restrictions, the court’s ruling would require more elaborate price comparison disclosures on individual product website pages, depending on the type of comparison made. The court did not order restitution.

Overstock.com currently finds at least one retailer selling a product and sets a comparative price with an average discount of 33%. The court ruling would require Overstock.com to instead use the average price from a range of retailers to set its discount prices.

"Respectfully, I believe this ruling is unjust," said Overstock.com president Stormy Simon. "And I know, because since 2008 I have been an integral part of the process by which we log, verify and advertise ‘compare-at’ prices. I am aware of the lengths we have gone to get this right on the millions of products that flow through our website. We will follow the ruling, while noting that the effects on our current practices will be small because, as we are the gold standard, we are already fanatic about getting this right. However, if fairly enforced, this ruling will force other retailers to change their processes dramatically (which makes one wonder why we are the ones who were targeted). We are an honest company committed to bringing justice to all our customers and suppliers, and that’s a promise. If this tentative ruling becomes final, we will file an appeal as soon as possible."

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