FINANCE

Supervalu Ends Pay-By-Fingerprint Service

BY CSA STAFF

Eden Prairie, Minn. The vendor behind Cub Foods fingerprint-verification payment system has ceased operations, prompting Cub parent Supervalu Inc. to end the service.

Solidus Networks Inc., owner of Pay By Touch, issued a press release on Wednesday saying that it would halt its biometric transactions as of 11:59 p.m. that day.

Solidus had filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in December. The company has also been sued by former executives.

In a statement Wednesday, Solidus stated that insufficient funding and current market conditions meant that it couldn’t support the biometric payment system any longer.

Supervalu used the Pay-By-Touch system in multiple banners, including Cub, Jewel-Osco, bigg’s, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s and Albertsons. It launched the service in 2005.

Haley Meyer, a spokeswoman for Supervalu, said the end of the service is unfortunate and Supervalu regrets any inconvenience for customers.

“Supervalu strives to offer services that make our busy customers’ lives easier, and we will continue to look for ways in which we can do that,” she said.

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BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK Barnes and Noble today reported sales of $1.5 billion for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2 and $4.6 billion for the full year. Excluding the impact of the extra week during fiscal 2006, sales increased 2.8% for the quarter and 4.3% for the full year, as compared to the same periods in 2006.

The company reported that comparable-store sales for the quarter decreased 0.5% and increased 1.8% for the year.

Barnes and Noble.com sales were $177 million for the quarter and $477 million for the full year. Excluding the impact of the extra week during fiscal 2006, Barnes & Noble.com comparable sales increased 13.1% for the quarter and 13.4% for the full year as compared to the same periods in fiscal 2006.

Consolidated sales were $1.8 billion for the quarter and $5.4 billion for the full year.

Net earnings were $115 million, or $1.79 per share for the fourth quarter, and $135.8 million, or $2.03 per share, for the full year, in-line with guidance updated on March 3.

The company expects first quarter comparable-store sales at Barnes and Noble stores to be slightly negative, and as previously announced, full-year comparable store sales are expected to be slightly positive.

The company said it expect Barnes and Noble first quarter earnings to range from 5 cents to 10 cents per share. The company said it expects full year earnings per share are expected to range from $1.70 to $1.90.

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Stein Mart posts quarterly loss

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Stein Mart today reported a net loss of $12.1 million or 30 cents per diluted share compared to net income of $21.1 million or 48 cents per diluted share in 2006. Sales for the quarter were $417.4 million, a decrease of 9.4% from sales of $461 million for the same period last year. Excluding the extra week in last year’s fourth quarter, sales decreased 3.3%.

Comparable-store sales for the quarter were down 6.2%.

“The steep decline in business last fall required us to take an exceptional amount of markdowns in the fourth quarter to move seasonal merchandise,” noted president and ceo Linda Farthing. “Although very costly, it did allow us to reduce our overall inventory to levels more appropriate for this uncertain retailing climate.”

For the fiscal year 2007, the company incurred a net loss of $4.5 million or 11 cents per diluted share, as compared to net income of $37.2 million or 85 cents per diluted share in 2006. For the fiscal year 2007, net sales totaled $1.46 billion, a 2.9% decrease from the $1.50 billion in net sales for the same period last year. Excluding the extra week for last year, sales decreased 1.5%.

Comparable-store sales for the full year decreased 4%.

“Although it was in line with our revised projections, our 2007 performance was deeply disappointing,” commented Farthing. “We are committed to improved results in 2008, despite the difficulties in the current economic environment.”

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