FINANCE

Williams-Sonoma Sales Up 3.6%

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco, Williams-Sonoma Inc. said Tuesday its comp-store sales rose 1.1% during the holiday period, and reaffirmed profit and sales projections for the fourth quarter and full year. Total sales for the eight-week period ending Dec. 24 rose 3.6% to $900.4 million.

The company maintained its forecast for fourth-quarter net income between $1 and $1.06 per share on revenue of $1.23 billion to $1.26 billion. Full-year earnings are anticipated in a range of $1.74 to $1.80 per share on sales of $3.71 billion to $3.74 billion.

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FINANCE

Aeropostale, American Eagle Flying High

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Shares of Aeropostale Inc. hit a new 52-week high Thursday after the teen apparel retailer said December comp-store sales came in slightly higher than analysts expected, and raised its fourth-quarter profit outlook. The company said comp-store sales rose 1.7% in December, while analysts polled by Thomson Financial predicted a gain of 1.3%.

The company also raised fourth-quarter profit estimates to between 98? and $1 per share, or 91? to 93? per share excluding a concession from South Bay Apparel Inc. Previously, the company said it expected earnings between 89? and 91? excluding the benefit. Analysts forecast profit of 91? per share, on average.

American Eagle saw its same-store sales jump 13% in December. Sales rose to $552.4 million from $435.5 million in the year-ago period.

The company is raising its fourth-quarter earnings guidance to $0.64 to $0.65 per share compared to $0.47 per share last year, which represents a 36% to 37% growth over last year. Previous fourth-quarter guidance was $0.63 to $0.64 per share.

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OPERATIONS

Nardelli Resigns as CEO of Home Depot

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta, Robert Nardelli resigned Wednesday as chairman, president and chief executive of The Home Depot Inc. The retailer named Frank Blake, vice chairman of the board of directors, to succeed Nardelli, effective immediately. Shares of Home Depot were up 4% in pre-market trading Wednesday.

The company said the board and Nardelli “mutually agreed” on his resignation.

“We are very grateful to Bob for his strong leadership of The Home Depot over the past six years,” the company said in a statement. “Under Bob’s tenure, the company made significant and necessary investments that greatly improved the company’s infrastructure and operations, expanded our markets to include wholesale distribution and new geographies, and undertook key strategic initiatives to strengthen the company’s foundation for the future.”

The resignation follows a stormy period for Nardelli, who has been under fire by shareholders for his hefty pay package, which they claimed was not in line with the company’s performance. Last month, activist Home Depot shareholder Relational Investors LLC said it wanted the retailer to establish a special committee to review the company’s strategic direction, management performance and to explore possible alternatives, including a sale of the company. Home Depot rejected the proposals and said its board had recently completed a strategic review and unanimously supported the company’s management.

According to the terms of the separation agreement, Nardelli is entitled to receive approximately $210 million, including amounts which have previously been earned or vested, complying with the terms of the employment contract entered into in 2000.

Additionally, he is entitled to the payment of account balances under the company’s 401(k) plan and other benefit programs current valued at a total of approximately $96 million.

Nardelli has also agreed not to compete with the company for one year, and not to solicit employees or customers of the company for four years.

In other moves, the company announced that Carol Tome, executive VP and CFO, and Joe DeAngelo, executive VP of HD Supply, are taking on additional responsibilities.

Tome will take on responsibility for mergers and acquisitions, credit services and additional strategic duties. DeAngelo was appointed to the newly created position of COO.

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