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Sears Q1 Retail Sales Flat, Posts Operating Income

4/18/2002 09:19:00 AM Eastern

HOFFMAN, ESTATES, ILL. - Buoyed by strong revenue growth in home appliances and projection televisions, Sears registered first-quarter sales of $6.77 billion in its retail segment, about flat with the $6.81 billion recorded in the same three months in 2001.

Sears said sales increases by product repair services, commercial sales and dealer stores were more than offset by declines in revenue from full-line stores.

Sears' retail segment posted operating income of $87 million in the first quarter, ended March 30, compared with an operating loss of $56 million year over year, excluding non-comparable items.

Gross margin in the retail segment climbed 170 basis points, reaching 26 percent. Sears said full-line hardlines contributed to the margin improvement.

Selling, general and administrative spending was 20 basis points lower than the first quarter of 2001, hitting 22.3 percent, due to expense decreases in full-line stores, among others.

Total revenue for Sears in the first quarter increased 2 percent, to $9 billion, up from $8.9 billion in the same three months of 2001.

Operating income climbed 30.9 percent, reaching $356 million, up from $272 million in the same quarter last year.

Overall net income dropped 38 percent, to $110 million, compared with $176 million year over year. Excluding one-time items, income rose to $300 million in the first quarter.

Due to a strong first-quarter performance, Sears expects 2002 full-year earnings to increase by about 17 percent.

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