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Most Public Chains Say Fiscal Q3 Was Better

11/21/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
NEW YORK – Most publicly held retail chains reported better sales and earnings in their fiscal third quarters, with the exception of Sears Holdings, which posted a deeper loss and relatively flat sales.

The retailers that reported a positive quarter were Wal-Mart, Target, Staples and Home Depot.

Wal-Mart Stores reported higher sales and operating earnings in its fiscal third quarter for Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club operations.

Net sales for Walmart U.S. were $63.8 billion in the quarter, up 2.7 percent from last year. Operating income for Walmart U.S. was $4.63 for the quarter, up 5.1 percent from the prior year. Comp-store sales without fuel for the segment vs. the prior year were up 1.3 percent.

Sam’s Club net sales were $13.3 billion in the quarter, up 2.7 percent from the prior year. Operating income in the quarter was $390 million, up 6.3 percent. Sam’s Club comp-store sales without fuel were up in the quarter by 5.7 percent.

The economy continues to weigh on Walmart U.S. customers, and Mike Duke, Wal-Mart Stores president/CEO said the company are continuing a strategy of investing in low prices for the holidays.

“Beyond everyday low price, Walmart U.S. has a number of additional programs in place for the fourth quarter, including the Christmas price guarantee, holiday layaway services and free online shipping options,” said Duke.

Walmart U.S. said that comp sales were driven by an increase in average ticket, partially offset by a decline in traffic versus last year, but that hardlines was one of the categories that had positive comps during the quarter.

For Sam’s Club, comparable traffic and ticket, excluding fuel, were both higher than the comparable period last year and increased for both Business and Advantage members for the 13-week period.

Target reported higher net sales and net earnings for its fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 30. The retailer reported net earnings of $555 million for the quarter, compared with $535 million in last year’s fiscal third quarter. Net sales were $16.1 billion up 5.4 percent from the prior year’s $15.2 billion.

For the U.S. retail segment, as Target first reported in its sales release on Nov. 3, 2011, Target’s compstore sales grew 4.3 percent. Segment earnings before interest expense and income taxes (EBIT) were $931 million in the third quarter of 2011, an increase of 14.1 percent from $816 million in 2010.

Staples reported higher company sales and net income for the fiscal third quarter, ended Oct. 29. Total company sales for the third quarter increased 0.5 percent to $6.6 billion compared with the prior year’s third quarter.

Net income for the quarter increased 13 percent year over year to $326 million.

North American retail segment sales were flat at $2.7 billion compared with the third quarter of 2010. Third-quarter 2011 comp-store sales declined 1 percent year on year, reflecting a 1 percent decrease in customer traffic and flat average order size.

Operating income rate increased 12 basis points to 10.7 percent compared with the third quarter of 2010. This primarily reflects improved product margins, partially offset by increased labor expense and investments in growth initiatives.

The Home Depot reported net earnings of $934 million, compared with net earnings of $834 million in the same period of fiscal 2010. Sales for the third quarter totaled $17.3 billion, a 4.4 percent increase from the third quarter of fiscal 2010.

Comp-store sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 were positive 4.2 percent, and comp sales for U.S. stores were positive 3.8 percent.

“Our third quarter was driven by strength in our core categories and stormrelated sales as well as strong operating performance,” said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO.

Sears Holdings reported a steeper net loss and slightly lower sales in its fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 29. The net loss attributed to Sears Holdings’ shareholders in the quarter was $421 million, more than $200 million more than its $218 million loss in last year’s fiscal third quarter.

Revenues were $9.6 billion, down slightly from revenues of $9.7 billion in the prior year’s fiscal third quarter.

The decline in total revenue for the quarter was primarily a result of a 0.8 percent decrease in domestic comp-store sales and the effect of having fewer Kmart and Sears full-line stores in operation.

The domestic comp-store sales decrease included declines of 0.9 percent at Kmart and 0.7 percent at Sears Domestic.

Decreases in sales for the quarter at Sears Domestic were primarily driven by appliances and consumer electronics, the company said.

Beginning with the first quarter of 2011, the company now includes in comp-stores sales online sales from Sears.com and Kmart.com shipped directly to customers. These online sales increased 19 percent over last year and the change resulted in a positive benefit of approximately 40 basis points to total domestic comparable sales for the third quarter.
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