FINANCE

Wet Seal Swings to 4Q Profit

BY CSA STAFF

Foothill Ranch, Calif. Wet Seal Inc. said Thursday it swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit as the prior-year period was weighed down by a large interest expense.

The company reported earnings for the period ended Feb. 2 of $12.2 million compared with a loss of $5.7 million in the previous year.

Year-ago results, which included an extra week, were hurt by a $10.2 million interest expense.

Quarterly sales grew 8% to $179.6 million from $166.4 million to top Wall Street’s estimate of $174.3 million. Meanwhile, consolidated same-store sales dipped 1.4%.

Wet Seal swung to an annual profit of $23.2 million from a loss of $12.8 million a year earlier. Full-year revenue climbed 8% to $611.2 million from $564.3 million.

For all of fiscal 2008, the company expects its store count to remain flat or grow nominally, with 20 to 25 planned openings at Wet Seal offset by a similar number of combined Wet Seal and Arden B closings as leases expire. It forecasts fiscal 2008 net-capital expenditures will be between $24 million and $25 million, of which between $18 million and $20 million will be for construction of new stores or remodeling of existing stores upon lease renewals and/or store relocations.

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Pep Boys posts 4Q sales loss

BY CSA STAFF

PHILADELPHIA The Pep Boys announced that sales for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2 were $517.6 million, as compared to the $578 million recorded for the fourth quarter ended February 3, 2007. Excluding the 14th week of fourth quarter 2006, comparable-merchandise sales decreased 4.4% and comparable-service revenue decreased 1%.

The company reported a fourth quarter net loss of $18.5 million, or 36 cents per share – basic and diluted, from net earning of $7.9 million, or 15 cents per share – basic and diluted, for the same period last year. According to Pep Boys, the net loss included $8.5 million of margin reductions related to the exiting of non-core merchandise, $6.2 million in store closure costs and $6 million in debt pre-payment costs.

Sales for the fiscal year ended Feb. 2 were $2.14 billion as compared to the $2.24 billion recorded last year. Excluding the 53rd week of 2006, comparable-merchandise sales decreased 4.2% and comparable-service revenue increased 1.8%.

Net loss increased from $7.07 million, or 13 cents per share – basic and diluted, to  $37.4 million, or 72 cents per share – basic and diluted. 

President and ceo Jeff Rachor commented, “While the difficult economic backdrop created sales challenges during the fourth quarter, we are pleased to confirm that our progress to date leaves us well positioned to complete this first important step in our strategic plan by the beginning of the second quarter of this year.

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ALDI launches ‘smart’ ad campaign

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK ALDI has launched a new television campaign in the United States.

The four commercials center on the themes of “musical,” “soccer mom,” “extended family” and “dinner party.” Each one presents a different scenario, i.e. shopping for a big family, or putting together the perfect dinner party, and ties into the ALDI motto of “shopping smart.”

The commercials can be viewed on ALDI’s Web site.

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