FINANCE

Wal-Mart to move forward with Massmart purchase in South Africa

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Johannesburg, South Africa — A South African regulatory body gave Wal-Mart permission on Friday to move ahead with its $2.2 billion purchase of South African chain Massmart.

The Competition Appeal Court upheld a ruling last year by the Competition Tribunal, but did require a study to determine a path to protect small producers who might not be able to compete with foreign producers from whom Wal-Mart can import cheaper goods.

Wal-Mart and Massmart had already agreed to spend $13 million over three years to help farmers and other South African suppliers prepare to do business with Wal-Mart.

The appeal court also called for the reinstatement of 503 workers who lost their jobs in what unions said was a step by Massmart to make itself more attractive to Wal-Mart.

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FINANCE

Aeropostale net income drops by two-thirds in Q4; to open net 38 stores this year

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Aeropostale Inc. reported Thursday that profit for the quarter ended Jan. 28 dropped to $26.1 million, from $83.8 million a year earlier, hurt by heightened supply-chain expenses.

Revenue dipped 4% to $808.4 million in the quarter, and same-store sales fell 9%. Results edged Wall Street’s expected $807.6 million in revenue.

For the full fiscal year 2011, Aeropostale posted a profit of $69.5 million, compared with $231.3 million last year. Revenue to $2.34 billion, from $2.40 billion in fiscal 2010.

“While our overall financial performance for the year was disappointing, we believe 2011 was a pivotal inflection point for our organization," said Thomas Johnson, CEO.

For fiscal 2012, Aeropostale said it plans to open 18 Aeropostale stores, 30 P.S. from Aeropostale stores, remodel five stores, and close 10 Aeropostale stores.

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Ann Inc. Q4 profit plummets; will open 65 stores and close 30 in 2012

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — Ann Inc. reported Friday that net income for its fiscal fourth quarter dropped to $2.2 million from $8 million in the year-ago period, hurt by heavy promotions at namesake stores.

Sales increased to $566.7 million, from $515.3 million, and same-store sales for fourth quarter rose 5.3%.

By brand, same-store sales plummeted 10.9% at namesake stores, but rose 8.1% at Loft stores. Strength in the online channel boosted overall same-store results.

“Our overall bottom-line results were impacted by significantly higher-than-anticipated promotional activity in the Ann Taylor stores channel,” said Kay Krill, president and CEO.

For the full year, sales edged up to $2.2 billion from $2 billion in 2010, and same-store sales increased 6.8%. Profit rose to $86.6 million, compared with $73.4 million last year.

The company said it is on track to open 65 new stores in fiscal 2012, which will be partially offset by downsizes at Ann Taylor stores and about 30 store closures.

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