Best Buy, Circuit City Post 4th-Quarter Gains

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A strong holiday selling season helped Best Buy and Circuit City post single-digit sales gains for their fiscal fourth quarters.

Best Buy said total company sales soared 28 percent to $6.98 billion for the three months ended March 2 while same-store sales grew 4.5 percent. Adjusted for a calendar shift, which moved more post-Thanksgiving shopping days to the third quarter of fiscal 2002, same-store sales rose 6.5 percent.

Breaking out the comps by chain, Best Buy stores were up 4.5 percent, the Musicland group grew 1.2 percent and Future Shop was up 16.5 percent. Best Buy said its Magnolia Hi-Fi subsidiary posted low single-digit declines.

For the full year, total sales were up 28 percent to $19.59 billion while same store sales edged up 1.9 percent, driven by gains in sales of video game hardware and software, DVD hardware and software, DTV and large-screen TVs, the company said.

At Circuit City, sales grew 7 percent during the fiscal fourth quarter ended Feb. 28 to $3.39 billion while same-store sales increased 6 percent.

Chairman/CEO Alan McCollough attributed the gains to the chain's strong December performance. By contrast, sales in January and February ran lower than anticipated due to inventory shortages, limited selections and the usual post-holiday season slowdown, he said.

For the full fiscal year ended Feb. 28, Circuit City sales fell 8 percent to $9.59 billion while comp store sales slid 10 percent. Excluding major appliances, which the chain fully exited in Nov. 2000, comp-store sales slipped 4 percent.

Elsewhere, Good Guys said fourth quarter sales slid 6.7 percent to $259.2 million and comps fell 7 percent for the period ended Feb. 28. Full year sales fell 6.2 percent to $819.7 million while comps declined 7 percent.

Despite the declines, chairman/CEO Ken Weller said that sales of digital products accounted for better than 60 percent of total revenue, and that business in flat panel, widescreen and high definition TVs remained strong.

Among mass merchants, Sears said sales for the four weeks ended March 2 slipped 1.2 percent to $1.9 billion while comps fell 3.1 percent. Chairman/CEO Alan Lacy said double-digit gains in major appliances and "solid sales" in CE couldn't offset steep declines in apparel.

By contrast, sales at Wal-Mart stores grew 15.6 percent to $17.2 billion for the four weeks ended March 1 while comps soared 11 percent. Similarly, February sales at Target stores grew 19.6 percent to $2.3 billion while comps gained 10 percent.

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