Hot Topic Q4 profit surges, topping expectations
City of Industry, Calif. — Hot Topic reported net income in the fourth quarter ended February 2, 2013, of $12.1 million, up from $9.0 million in the year-ago period.
Total sales for the fourth quarter increased 11.0% to $233.0 million, compared to $209.9 million last year. Total same-store sales increased 2.6%. (Due to the 53rd week in fiscal 2012, fourth quarter comparable sales are compared to the corresponding 14 week period ended February 4, 2012.)
For the fiscal year of 2012, the company reported net income of $19.5 million, compared to a net loss of $1.8 million for fiscal year 2011 (52 weeks). The results include a charge of $16.6 million for the implementation of the strategic business changes and cost reduction plan.
Aaron’s opens 32 stores
Atlanta — Aaron’s, a lease-to-own, announced the recent opening of a combined 32 new company-operated and franchised stores in 17 different states and two Canadian provinces.
The announcement follows a strong growth year for the company in 2012, which included the opening of its 2,000th store in the Bronx in September.
"Last year was incredibly strong with a 6.6% increase in store count and financial results that were the best in the company’s history," said Aaron’s chairman, president and CEO Ronald W. Allen. "We are pleased to begin 2013 with an equally optimistic outlook for store growth and subsequent job opportunities."
Aaron’s currently has more than 2,075 company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada.
February retail sales up 1.1%
WASHINGTON — The Department of Commerce reported that retail sales for the month of February rose by 1.1% seasonally adjusted month to month.
The newly released figures include nongeneral merchandise categories, such as automobiles, gas stations and restaurants; excluding those, sales rose 0.7%, while rising 0.5% unadjusted year over year. The National Retail Federation noted that sales beat estimates as consumers adapted and adjusted spending in response to higher gas prices and the payroll tax increase.
"Retail continues to show its importance to the economy," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "That said, our consumer research consistently shows a cautious shopper that is making tough spending decisions based on economic uncertainties, lower paychecks and higher prices for things, such as gas. This is particularly true for those making $50,000 or less a year. While retail sales numbers indicate good momentum for the economy, consumers with less earning power may continue to face ongoing pressure, and retail sales will encounter further challenges as sequestration takes full effect in March."
Health and personal care stores’ sales were flat seasonally adjusted month to month, and decreased 2.9% unadjusted year over year, while general merchandise stores sales saw a 0.5% increase adjusted month to month and a 4.7% decrease unadjusted year-over-year.
Guggenheim Securities analyst John Heinbockel noted in a report that overall retail sales, excluding cars and fuel, increased 4% in February, flat compared with January but below the 4.6% increase in February 2012.
"In such a moderating growth environment, we have an ongoing preference for more defensively positioned retailers, those with more consumables-oriented business mixes and average to below-average valuation levels," Heinbockel wrote, adding that Guggenheim would continue encouraging the buying of dollar store and pharmacy retail stocks, with the idea that both channels would continue generating above-average profit growth beyond the first quarter.
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