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Strong February Sales For Circuit City, Tandy

February sales were brisk at Circuit City and RadioShack, where PCs and home satellite systems led the charge, respectively, while leap year provided an extra selling day.

Circuit City, whose fiscal year ended February 29, said 12-month sales at its consumer electronics/appliance outlets were up 10% to $10.6 billion, while comparable-store sales grew 8%. Fourth-quarter revenue rose 15% to $3.48 billion, assisted by a 20% spike in February sales of $923.8 million. Same-store sales were ahead 10% for the quarter and 18% for the month.

Circuit City chairman Richard Sharp said February's comp-store gains "greatly exceeded our expectations." Paving the way were personal computers, although Sharp also cited a "significant increase" in the pace of consumer electronics sales last month.

Also buoying the results was the extra day in February, which added about 3 percentage points to the same-store tally.

Circuit City's sales mix remained essentially static for the year. TVs represented 18% of annual sales, and VCRs and camcorders accounted for 13% of total revenue, both unchanged from fiscal-year 1999. Audio, at 15%, and white goods, at 14%, both slipped a percentage point from the prior year's mix, while the largest category, home office, edged up 2 percentage points to 29% of sales.

Regarding profitability, Sharp said the last quarter's "strong sales trends" will likely yield earnings for the retail-store operation of $161.6 million for the period. That would close to double last year's earnings of $87 million, which were negatively impacted by the unit's discontinued Divx DVD business and interest in the CarMax auto retailing affiliate.

For the full year, Circuit City expects to report a net of $327.2 million, compared to fiscal-1999 earnings of $148.4 million, which also factored in losses from Divx and CarMax. The company plans to release its fiscal-2000 earnings early next month.

Tandy said February sales for all RadioShack stores totaled $338.2 million, up 19%, while same-store sales at company-owned locations increased 17%.

Chairman Len Roberts said sales of home satellite systems, and wireless communications devices and services led the gains, although each of the chain's "major product categories" also grew over the prior-year period. The chain also enjoyed a nearly 4% hike in February sales courtesy of leap year.

Roberts added that he "anticipates further revenue growth throughout the remainder of the year," thanks to the upcoming rollouts of its RCA and Microsoft in-store shops.

Among general merchandise retailers, BJ's Wholesale Club said February sales grew 19% to $299 million, while comparable-store sales were up 7.8%. CEO Jack Nugent said, "Sales benefited from strong demand for computer equipment and software," which led other consumer goods categories.

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