Richmond, Va. - Circuit City this morning reported a 7 percent hike in fiscal fourth quarter sales to $3.39 billion and a 6 percent gain in same store sales for the period ended Feb. 28.
Chairman/CEO Alan McCollough said the gains were largely due to the chain's strong December performance, as sales in January and February ran lower than anticipated thanks to inventory shortages, limited selections and the usual post-holiday season slowdown.
According to UBSW analyst Aram Rubinson, whose team conducted surveys of 3,500 SKUs in 15 Circuit City locations across five markets last month, the stores were systematically out of 38 percent of key items such as DVD players, MP3 players, direct-view TVs, PCs, camcorders and digital cameras.
Rubinson noted that stock-outs are an industrywide issue, attributable to conservative autumn orders in the wake of Sept. 11, and to a "surprising surge" in home theater and large screen TV demand during the holidays.
For the full fiscal year ended Feb. 28, Circuit City sales fell 8 percent to $9.59 billion while comp store sales slid 10 percent. Excluding major appliances, which the chain fully exited in Nov. 2000, comp-store sales slipped 4 percent.
Looking ahead, McCollough confirmed previous earnings expectations of between 68 cents and 71 cents a share for the fourth quarter, and 62 cents to 65 cents for the full fiscal year before additional lease termination costs of 3 cents a share related to its withdrawal from white goods. The company will release its earnings on April 2.