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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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