FINANCE

Urban Outfitters reports record sales

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Philadelphia — Urban Outfitters reported Thursday that sales for the fourth quarter, ended Jan. 31, rose 9% to $731 million.

Comparable retail segment net sales, which include the direct-to-consumer channels, increased 2% for the quarter, while comparable store net sales decreased 1% for the quarter. Direct-to-consumer comparable net sales increased 14% and wholesale segment net sales rose 3% for the quarter.

For the year ended January 31, 2012, total net sales increased to $2.5 billion.

“While each brand reported record sales for the fourth quarter, we are most pleased with the progress the teams made on reducing overall inventory levels. Promotional activity was significantly higher than planned but ending inventories were clean, and on a comparable store basis, lower than the prior year," said Richard Hayne, CEO. "The direct-to-consumer channel remains a highlight with each brand experiencing strong growth during the quarter. We remain especially excited about the opportunities surrounding this channel."

During the year, the company opened 57 new stores, including 21 Urban Outfitters, 15 Anthropologie stores, 20 Free People stores and 1 BHLDN store.

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FINANCE

Whole Foods profit rises 33%; 69 new stores in development

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Austin, Texas — Whole Foods Market Inc. reported Wednesday that profit for the first quarter rose a better-than-expected 33% to $118.3 million amid increased customer visits and higher prices on select items. On a follow-up conference call with analysts, the chain revealed it has 69 new stores in development, or 2.4 million square feet, in development.

The natural and organic grocer generated revenue of $3.39 billion in the quarter ended Jan. 15, almost a 13% increase over the prior year and beating analysts’ expected $3.38 billion in revenue. Same-store sales rose 8.7%.

The grocer has raised its full-year outlook, now projecting a 13.5% to 15% revenue increase, up from its previously projected 13% to 15% gain.

"There are some positive things happening on the economic front which we are hopeful will continue," Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said on a conference call with analysts. "We have tremendous sales momentum as well as the capital and expense disciplines in place to leverage that momentum to the bottom line."

Part of Whole Foods’ expansion strategy in 2012 will be a continuing focus on smaller footprints and building in economical neighborhoods to lower capex investments.

“Compared to last year’s class of new stores, this year’s class was 17% smaller in size, averaging 38,000 sq. ft. and produced average weekly sales per store of $561,000, translating to 29% higher sales per square foot of $776,” Robb said on the call.

Robb said the chain has signed 34 new leases over the last 12 months and is on track to open between 24 and 27 new stores in fiscal 2012 and 28 to 32 new stores in fiscal 2013.

“We currently have 69 stores or 2.4 million sq. ft. in development equal to 20% of our 12 million sq. ft. in operation,” he said.

Whole Foods recently signed eight new leases averaging 33,000 sq. ft. in size in Frisco, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Orland Park, Illinois; South Bend, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Jackson, Mississippi; Port Chester, New York; and Cleveland, Ohio. Frisco, South Bend and Jackson are markets for the chain.

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Whole Foods not starving for sales, earnings

BY CSA STAFF

AUSTIN, Texas — While food discounters may be thriving in this down economy, things aren’t so bad at the other end of the spectrum. Whole Foods Market reported that sales for its first quarter ended Jan. 15 increased 13% to $3.4 billion, and comparable-store sales increased 8.7%. Identical-store sales, excluding six relocations and two expansions, increased 8.2%, or 17.3% on a two-year stacked basis.The company also posted a whopping 33% increase in net income to $118.3 million. Diluted earnings per share increased 28% to 65 cents. 

"We continue to execute at a high level, delivering a great shopping experience for our customers while delivering great returns to our shareholders," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "This quarter we produced a 28% increase in earnings on a 13% increase in sales. We are pleased with our sales momentum and are confident we will continue to leverage our sales to the bottom line as reflected in our increased operating margin and earnings outlook for the year."

Whole Foods opened six stores in the first quarter and expects to open three stores in the second quarter. The company currently has 317 stores totaling approximately 12.1 million sq. ft.

For fiscal 2012, Whole Foods expects sales to increase between 13.5% and 15%, and comparable-store sales to increase between 7.3% and 8.8%. Identical-store sales are expected to increase between 7% and 8.5%.

For the full year, the company is expecting earnings per diluted share $2.28 to $2.32.

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