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CE, Majaps Part Of Mixed Q1 For Chains

5/23/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK – Quarterly reports from a variety publicly-
held national chains were, as they have been for a
few quarters, mixed.

Tough winter weather may have held back shoppers
from going to brick and mortar locations and, when
mentioned, CE and majaps got lukewarm reviews, at
best, on sales performance.

Walmart’s U.S. sales were $62.7 billion, up 0.6
percent from the prior year’s $62.3 billion. Operating
income for the segment was $4.65 billion, up 0.8 percent
from the prior year’s $4.615 billion.

Sam’s Club segment reported sales of $12.8 billion
in the quarter, up 9.4 percent from the prior year’s
$11.7 billion. Operating income in the quarter was
$459 million, up 7 percent from the prior year’s $429
million.

In a pre-recorded earnings call, Walmart U.S. president/
CEO Bill Simon reported mid single-digit negative
comps in CE due to “price deflation in key electronics
items.” Nevertheless, TV unit sales were strong
as customers used tax refund loans during the quarter,
and the chain continues to see solid prepaid wireless
sales, especially in services, Simon said.

Walmart’s U.S. comp sales were down 1.1 percent,
compared with the prior year’s first quarter when it
was down 1.4 percent. Sam’s Club had comp-store
sales up 4.2 percent compared with a 0.7 percent increase
last year.

Sears Holdings reported a $170 million net loss in
its fiscal first quarter with lower major appliance and
CE sales getting some of the blame compared with
net income of $16 million in last year’s first quarter.

Total revenues decreased $341 million to $9.7 billion
for the quarter ended April 30, 2011, as compared
to total revenues of $10.0 billion year-on-year. The
domestic comparable store sales results included decrease at Sears Domestic of 5.2 percent and Kmart
of 1.6 percent. Appliances experienced a low doubledigit
decline and benefited in the prior year from government
appliance rebate programs in effect last year.

Target reported first-quarter earnings up 2.7 percent
to $689 million as sales rose 2.8 percent to
$15.6 billion during the three months ended April 30,
and same-store sales increased 2 percent. But Gregg
Steinhafel, Target’s chairman/president and CEO described
the retail results as “weaker than anticipated.”

Staples’ North American retail sales for the first
quarter were $2.328 billion, an increase of 1 percent
in U.S. dollars from $2.312 billion.

Comp-store sales decreased 1 percent vs. the first
quarter of 2010, primarily reflecting a decrease in customer
traffic in the Canadian retail business, partially
offset by higher average order size.

North American retail business unit income wasa $177.3 million for the quarter up from the prior year’s
$176.5 billion.

BJ’s Wholesale Club had net income was $33.7
million in the quarter compared with the prior year’s
net income of $26.1 million. Net sales were $2.77 billion,
up 10 percent from the prior year’s $2.51 billion.

Merchandise comp store sales excluding gasoline
were up 2.4 percent. Among the weaker categories for
the wholesale club during the quarter was TVs.

For the home improvement chains results were
mixed. Lowe’s net earnings were $461 million, a 5.7
percent decrease from the same period a year ago for
the quarter ended April 29. Sales for the quarter decreased
1.6 percent to $12.2 billion from $12.4 billion
year on year. Comp store sales for the first quarter decreased
3.3 percent.

Home Depot reported fiscal first quarter net earnings
of $812 million for the quarter ended May 1 compared
with net earnings of $725 million for the same
period last year.

Sales for the first quarter totaled $16.8 billion, a 0.2
percent decrease from the first quarter of last year.
Comparable store sales for the first quarter were negative
0.6 percent, and comp sales for U.S. stores were
negative 0.7 percent. – Steve Smith and Alan Wolf