FINANCE

Investor Slashes Stake in Circuit City

BY CSA STAFF

New York City A major shareholder of Circuit City Stores Inc. has sold nearly its entire stake in the electronics retailer, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday.

The TCW Group Inc., which was formerly the company’s largest institutional investor, slashed its holdings to 310,045 shares, which represents a 0.2% stake in the Richmond, Va.-based company. In August, TCW reported owning 18.3 million Circuit City shares, or a 10.9% stake.

The Los Angeles-based investment manager disclosed the stake in a Schedule 13G filing, which indicates the investment is passive, and the shares were not acquired to change or influence control of the company.

On Monday, Circuit City reported that same-store sales dropped 11.4% in December, on weak sales of tube televisions, camcorders and other devices early in the month. The company’s stock has plunged from a 52-week high of $22.02 last February to a low of $3.61 last week.

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GameStop holiday strong, raises 4Q outlook

BY CSA STAFF

GRAPEVINE, Texas GameStop announced today that it is raising its fourth quarter 2007 comparable-store sales and earning guidance following a strong holiday period.

The company reported that it is raising its fourth quarter 2007 comparable-store guidance from a range of 7% to 9%, to a range of 15.5% to 16.5%. Full year comparable-store sales are now expected to be in a range of 23.5% to 24.5%. The company expects fourth quarter diluted earnings per share guidance to be in a range of $1.09 to $1.10. Full year earnings per diluted share guidance is now forecast to be in a range of $1.75 to $1.76, which is 13 cents per share higher than guidance issued on Nov. 20.

For the nine-week holiday period ending Jan. 5, the GameStop reported total sales of $2.3 billion, a 34.7% increase from the prior year holiday period of $1.7 billion. Comparable-store sales for the holiday period increased 20%.

Richard Fontaine, chairman and ceo, commented, Driven by robust domestic and international sales, GameStop achieved the most successful holiday season results ever. Video game software sales grew by 45%, while the next generation installed base is now triple last years base and a very positive leading indicator for future sales growth. 

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Wal-Mart exceeds Dec. comps guidance

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart citied strength in its pharmacy, grocery and electronics businesses as key drivers of a 2.6% increase in December same store sales.

That figure was at the upper end of the company’s guidance of a 1% to 3% increase and exceeded analysts’ estimates of 1.8% increase.

Total sales for the Wal-Mart’s U.S. stores division increased 5.6% to $29.7 billion during the five-week December reporting period ended January 4.

“Wal-Mart’s food performance was very strong, which helped drive traffic to other areas of the stores,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and ceo of Wal-Mart Stores U.S. “Our price leadership position was clear very early in the holiday season and customers responded throughout the period to our pricing and merchandise offerings which were support by well-integrated advertising and in-store communication.”

Faster, friendlier checkouts and an overall improvement to the in-store experience also contributed to the results, according to Castro-Wright.

“Within the food category, products related to entertaining and holiday baking performed well. Electronics was strong across the board. In apparel, sales were strong in seasonal and licensed items,” Castro-Wright said.

The company said it Sam’s Club division continued to perform well as it posted a 1.3% same store sales increase. Total sales increased 4.3% to $4.9 billion. The international division saw the largest increase as sales advanced 18.2% to nearly $12 billion.

Wal-Mart maintained it previously states guidance of fourth quarter earnings per share between 99 cents and $1.03.

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