Dayton, Ohio — A continued focus on its core high definition-ready, big-screen television category helped specialty retailer Rex Stores boost net income in its fiscal fourth quarter and 12 months, even though overall sales for both periods showed decreases.
Rex sales in the fourth quarter, ended Jan. 31, dropped 8 percent, to $134 million, down from $146.3 million in the year-ago period. Comp-store sales for the three months decreased 7 percent.
On the other hand, fourth quarter net income soared 88 percent, reaching $17.1 million, up from $9.1 million in the same quarter a year earlier.
For the 12 months, sales fell 3 percent, down to $417.4 million, from $428.6 million, while comp-store sales dipped 1 percent.
Net income for the 12 months rose 20 percent, hitting $27.4 million, compared with $22.9 million in the previous year.
"Rex Stores achieved record net income per share in fiscal 2003," said Stuart Rose, chairman/CEO, reflecting the chain’s digital and large-screen-size TV gains. "We also significantly strengthened our balance sheet during the year, reducing debt by $11.3 million. We remain optimistic about our long-term prospects."
Gains in the retailer’s fiscal fourth quarter net income also reflect investment income from a synthetic fuel limited partnership, as well as an income tax benefit due to the favorable completion of an Internal Revenue Service audit of one of the company’s synthetic fuel limited partnership investments.
The Rex board has extended previous share repurchase authorization by an additional 1 million shares. During the past fiscal year, the retailer purchased about 711,000 shares of its common stock. As of the end of March, the company had about 1.15 million authorized shares remaining available to purchase under an expanded February stock buy-back authorization.