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Sears Q4 Retail Revenue Up 3.6%

1/29/2004 01:03:00 PM Eastern

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — An additional week added to fourth quarter sales and earning results for the retail and related services segment at Sears, helped the retailer achieve a 3.6 percent increase in sales for the three months, hitting $10.1 billion, up from $9.7 billion in the year-ago period.

Comp-store sales, with the extra week, dropped 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter, ended Jan. 3, with sales trends impacted by later-than-anticipated consumer seasonal purchases and a difficult promotional environment. Sears said consumer digital products did well in the three months.

Gross margin, due to additional promotional and clearance activities, dropped to 28.9 percent, from 29.4 percent in the same period a year earlier, while expenses declined to 19.2 percent, from 19.9 percent.

The retail segment recorded operating income of $753 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $726 million year-on-year, also benefiting from the extra selling week.

For the 12 months, sales in Sears’ retail segment edged upward, to $31.8 billion, from $31.5 billion the previous year. Operating income for the 12 months slid to $828 million, from $1.2 billion.

Consolidated Sears revenue for the fourth quarter, including merchandise and credit and financial products, dropped to $12.3 billion, from $12.5 billion.

Net income climbed to $2.7 billion for the fourth quarter, up from $848 million year-on-year. The most recent fourth quarter results, however, include a pre-tax gain of $4.1 billion for the sale of the company’s domestic credit and financial products business, a pre-tax gain of $81 million for the sale of a tire and battery business and a $791 million pre-tax charge.

Consolidated 12-month revenue was flat at $41 billion, compared with $41.4 billion a year earlier. Net income reached $3.4 billion for the 12 months, compared with $1.4 billion year-over-year, but the most recent year’s results also were affected by the pre-tax gains.

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