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Sears Q4 Retail Operating Income Up 6%

1/17/2002 10:45:00 AM Eastern

Hoffman Estates, Ill. - Boosted by strong revenue growth in such hardline categories as major appliances and big screen and projection televisions, Sears, Roebuck and Co. reported a 5.9 percent increase in operating income for its Retail and Related Services segment in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 29.

This amount reached $662 million, compared with $625 million in the same three months in 2000.

'Despite slow holiday sales, our retail and related services profits increased solidly, driven by margin rate improvements across virtually all of our retail formats,' said Alan J. Lacy, chairman/CEO. Gross margin improved by 40 basis points to 27.9 percent for the segment in the fourth quarter.

However, fourth-quarter revenue for the Retail segment was $9.5 billion, 3.5 percent below the $9.84 billion reported in the same three months in 2000.

For the full year, operating income for the Retail segment climbed to $426 million, compared with $340 million the previous 12 months. Total revenue for 2001 was relatively flat at $1.33 billion, compared with $1.31 billion the previous year.

Overall Sears revenue dipped 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter, reaching $12.2 billion, down from $12.4 billion in the same three months in 2000. Net income climbed 11.8 percent to $494 million, up from $442 million in the same quarter in 2000.

Overall revenue for the year was somewhat flat at $41.1 billion, compared with $40.9 billion the previous year, an increase of 0.3 percent. Net income, however, dropped substantially, hitting $735 million, a 45.3 percent slide from the $1.3 billion reported in 2000.

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