FINANCE

Zale Posts Weak Results, Plans Closures

BY CSA STAFF

Irving, Texas, Zale Corp. announced net earnings of $4.1 million for its fourth quarter ended July 31, down 40.5% from a year ago. Total revenues grew 3.7% to $472.3 million.

For the fiscal year, the jeweler posted flat net earnings of $106.8 million. Total revenues for the year increased 3.4% to $2.4 billion on same-store sales growth of 0.3%.

Zale president and CEO Mary Forte said underperformance of the Zale brand is responsible for the retailer’s disappointing results.

Zale also announced that after the holiday season, it will close between 30 and 35 underperforming stores in its Bailey Banks & Biddle luxury-goods stores.

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Hurricane Katrina Boosts Home Depot Sales

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta, The Gulf Coast monster hurricane that is buffeting Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama has provided an unasked-for lift to sales at The Home Depot and its top competitor, Lowe’s. Consumers in the three hardest-hit states, as well as in Florida, have stocked up on plywood and safety supplies such as flashlights and batteries.

Sales are anticipated to track well after Hurricane Katrina passes through, as consumers begin to rebuild homes, businesses and other properties damaged by the storm. But the storm’s full effect on sales depends in part on how much damage the stores themselves suffer and how long they will be closed.

About a dozen Home Depot stores from New Orleans to Pensacola, Fla., are closed. About 10 Lowe’s stores in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are closed.

Both chains have command centers in full operation, and safety inspectors will begin walking through stores tonight, as possible, to inspect for damage and to provide reopening recommendations.

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New CFO at Office Depot

BY CSA STAFF

Delray Beach, Fla., Patricia A McKay, who has served on the board of Office Depot since May 2004, has been named CFO. McKay, who resigned her board position with the appointment, replaces Charles E, Brown. In April, Brown was appointed president, international, of Office Depot. He had continued as interim CFO while the company searched for a replacement. McKay previously served as executive VP/CFO of Restoration Hardware.

In other news, Office Depot today pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross for the relief of persons affected by Hurricane Katrina.

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