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Starboard Value foregoes Office Depot consent solicitation

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Investment firm Starboard Value, a shareholder in Office Depot, is foregoing a preliminary consent solicitation it filed against Office Depot in April in light of an order by the Delaware Chauncery Court for Office Depot to hold its annual meeting. Starboard Value had been pressing Office Depot to hold its annual meeting and commenced a consent solicitation to remove several existing directors in favor of Starboard’s nominees.

Starboard, which supports the proposed Office Depot-OfficeMax merger, will seek the election of four of its candidates to the Office Depot board at the company’s annual meeting.

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Firing on all chambers, Smith & Wesson sales surge

BY CSA STAFF

American’s demand for guns outstripped supply during the fourth quarter at Smith & Wesson Holdings, where ramped-up production produced a 37.6% sales increase.

The dramatic sales growth comes amid ongoing concerns among some consumers of impending restrictions on gun ownership and runs on ammunitions that prompted some retailers to impose daily quantity limits. Surging demand for firearms caused outdoor specialty retailer Cabela’s to report a 24% same-store sales increase for the quarterly period ended March 30. Comps increase 9% if guns and ammunition are excluded.

Smith & Wesson said sales for its fourth quarter ended April 30 increased 37.6% to $178.7 million from $129.8 million during the same period the prior year. Income from continuing operations increased 60.6% to $28.6 million, or 44 cents a share, from $17.8 million, or 27 cents a share.

“We are pleased with our results, which include record fourth quarter and annual net sales and profits and a substantial expansion of our gross margins,” said James Debney, Smith & Wesson’s president and CEO. “Our successful performance was driven by solid marketing, innovative new products, disciplined manufacturing execution, and strict financial management.”

The company said it increased production capacity during the quarter, but still was unable to meet ongoing demand across most of its firearm product lines, resulting in additional growth in order backlog.

Strong product demand coupled with expense control was a potent combination that allowed the company to produce stunning improvement in key financial metrics. For example, gross margins expanded to 38.3% of sales from 36.1% of sales, operating expenses declined to 12.1% of sales from 16.3% of sales. As the gross margin and expense rates headed in opposite directions, Smith & Wesson’s operating margin expanded to 26.2% in the fourth quarter compared to 19.8% the prior year.

For the full year, the company’s sales increased 42.6% to a record $587.5 million and firearm production capacity increase by 40.4%. Income from continuing operations was $81.4 million, or $1.22 a share, compared to $26.4 million or 40 cents a share the prior year. Full year gross margins expanded to 37.2% from 31.1% and operating expenses declined to 14.6% of net sales compared to 20.2%.

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Nordstrom beefs up board with Intuit CEO

BY CSA STAFF

SEATTLE — Nordstrom has appointed Intuit president and CEO Brad Smith to the company’s board of directors.

His addition brings the total number of directors to 12, 9 of whom serve as independent directors. Nordstrom directors serve one-year terms and the company requires annual elections of all board members.

Smith was named president and CEO of Intuit in January 2008, culminating a five-year rise through the company where he led several of its major businesses.

Intuit credits Smith with breathing new life into the 30-year-old Silicon Valley company by fomenting within its corporate culture a startup mentality. His efforts have made it possible, according to the company, for Intuit to reinvent and transform itself and generate more than $4 billion in annual revenue.

Before joining Intuit, Smith served in a variety of sales, marketing and management roles with ADP, PepsiCo, Seven-Up and Advo. He is also a former director of Yahoo.

“Brad adds to the already strong talent and diverse expertise represented on our Board,” said Enrique Hernandez Jr., chairman of the board. “In addition to his corporate governance experience as a public company director, he brings an impressive track record of leading a successful customer-driven business with a reputation for developing innovative products and solutions. We’re delighted to have him on our team and look forward to his contribution as we work to improve the service experience and extend our reputation with customers and shareholders alike.”

Nordstrom is one of the leading fashion specialty retailers based in the U.S. Founded in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle, today Nordstrom operates 248 stores in 33 states, including 117 full-line stores, 127 Nordstrom Racks, two Jeffrey boutiques, one treasure&bond store and one clearance store. Nordstrom also serves customers through its e-commerce site and its catalogs. Additionally, the company operates in the online private sale marketplace through its subsidiary HauteLook.

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