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Report: Retail data breaches not an attack on U.S., economy

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – The National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, a combined effort of the FBI, Secret Service, intelligence agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, has released a report stating there is no evidence that recent data breaches in the computer networks of U.S., retailers are a deliberate attack on the U.S., economy.

According to the Associated Press, the two-page report, which has not been made available to the public, states that while cyber attacks on retailers have global implications and significant negative impact on businesses and consumers, there is no evidence that any criminal groups or nation-states are attempting to damage the U.S.

The report does not name any specific retailers, but major U.S. retailers including Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores have recently had cyber attacks on their computer networks publicly uncovered. The task force is also reportedly investigating Kaptoxa, a type of malware originating in Eastern Europe believed to have been used in the Target and Neiman Marcus attacks, as well as other forms malware.

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CVS Q4 net income, sales jump

BY Dan Berthiaume

Woonsocket, R.I. – CVS Caremark reported strong performance in both earnings and revenues for both the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2014. The chain also raised its guidance for the first quarter.

CVS said net income during the quarter ended Dec. 31,2014, rose 12.5% to $1.26 billion from $1.12 billion in the year-ago quarter. For the full year, income rose 19% to $4.59 billion, from $3.86 billion.

Meanwhile, net sales for the quarter increased about 4% to $32.8 million from $31.4 million. Net sales rose 3% for the full fiscal year, to $126.8 million from $123.1 million. Strong performance in pharmacy services and retail pharmacy helped drive CVS’ results, as well as a gain from a legal settlement recognized in the third quarter that boosted net earnings.

Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS, said an unusually good fourth quarter contributed to a generally strong year. Fourth quarter results in both earnings and revenues beat analyst revenues.

“I am very pleased with our fourth quarter results, which came in at the high end of our expectations and helped produce a record year,” said Merlo. “As expected, the quarter was somewhat atypical, largely due to the timing of Medicare Part D profits within the PBM and the timing of break-open generics across the enterprise. Overall, the year 2013 produced strong growth in revenues, gross margin, operating margin and earnings across the enterprise."

CVS announced last week it would stop selling all tobacco products at its drug stores by October 2014.

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Urban Outfitters falls short of Street expectations

BY CSA STAFF

Urban Outfitters reported substantial gains in net sales for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2014, driven primarily by the company’s Anthropologie and Free People brands.

Total company sales in the quarter increased 6% to $906 million from $856.8 million in the year-ago period — less than Wall Street expected.

Same-store retail segment net sales, which include the direct-to-consumer channel, increased 1%. Same-store retail segment net sales increased 20% at Free People and 10% at Anthropologie and decreased 9% at Urban Outfitters. Wholesale segment net sales rose 24%.

For the year ended Jan. 31, 2014, total company net sales increased to $3.1 billion or 10% from $2.8 billion the prior year. Same-store retail segment net sales increased 6%. Wholesale segment net sales increased 20%.

"I am pleased to announce record Urban Outfitters sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 driven by outstanding performances from the Anthropologie and Free People brands," said Richard A. Hayne, CEO. "Although customer response to our early spring fashion offerings has been difficult to read due to weather abnormalities, the Anthropologie and Free People brands continue to deliver solid same-store retail segment sales gains. These gains, however, have been largely offset by weakness at the Urban Outfitters brand.”

The company will release fourth quarter and fiscal year 2014 earnings results March 10.

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