FINANCE

Williams-Sonoma Q4 profit up 8%; announces resignation of COO/CFO

BY Marianne Wilson

San Francisco — Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 8%, boosted by strong performances from its Pottery Barn and West Elm brands. The company also announced that COO and CFO Sharon McCollam, 48, has retired.

Although the home-furnishings retailer’s results beat Wall Street estimates, it offered fiscal 2012 earnings guidance that was slightly below what analysts expect. Its revenue forecast for the year was above analysts’ estimates.

Williams-Sonoma reported net income of $122.6 million for the period ended Jan. 29, up from $113.4 million a year earlier.

Quarterly revenue was up 13% to $1.27 billion, from $1.12 billion as online sales rose 18.1%. Direct-to-consumer revenue rose 13.8% in the quarter, led by Pottery Barn and West Elm.

On an earnings call with analysts, CEO and president Laura Alber detailed the company’s strategic initiatives for 2012, which include continued investment in its e-commerce capability; the multiyear development of a multichannel, multi-brand global IT platform; the expansion of West Elm including seven new stores; four, the remodel of high-profile stores; and the multi-year replacement of its conveyable direct-to-customer fulfillment operations.

Also in 2012, the company will expand its international shipping capability from 75 countries to 99, and will expand it franchise presence in the Middle East from 13 stores at the close of 2011 to 18, including the first Williams-Sonoma, PBteen and West Elm stores outside of the Americas.

For the full year, Williams-Sonoma earned $236.9 million, or $2.22 per share. That’s up from $200.2 million, or $1.83 per share, in the prior year. Annual revenue increased 6% to $3.72 billion, from $3.5 billion.

Williams-Sonoma said McCollam has retired from the company and will retire from its board on March 16. It appointed Julie Whalen, senior VP, corporate controller and treasurer, as acting CFO.

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REAL ESTATE

Report: Maurices opening 60 stores in 2012

BY Staff Writer

New York — Women’s apparel retailer Maurices plans to open approximately 60 stores this year, according to the Duluth News Tribune. The total includes the chain’s first international location, in Canada.

Maurices currently has 803 stores in 44 states, with the count up 32 stores since June.

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FINANCE

Stein Mart Q4 income down, to focus on everyday low-pricing strategy

BY Marianne Wilson

Jacksonville, Fla. — Stein Mart Inc. reported Thursday that its net income fell to $5.7 million for the fiscal fourth quarter, down from $18.8 million last year. The chain said it was returning to its strategy of emphasizing everyday low prices after heavy coupon promotions took a toll on the retailer’s financial performance during the past year.

Revenue for the quarter ended Jan. 28 was down nearly 3% to $328.1 million, from $336.7 million. Same-store sales were down 2.2%.

The company reported net income of $19.8 million for the year versus $48.8 million in the prior year. Annual revenue dropped to $1.16 billion, from $1.18 billion a year earlier.

“Sales results drove our fourth quarter and full-year bottom line lower than last year. While we were disappointed, we are determined to return to the everyday low prices that built this company," said Jay Stein, interim CEO of Stein Mart, in a statement.

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