Retailer Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., which sells small appliances, has posted a 37-percent increase in its profit for the quarter. This topped the U.S.'s Wall Street expectations on solid gains in sales as the home goods retailer added new stores.
The Union, NJ, U.S.-based company also raised its outlook above analysts' forecasts for both the first quarter and current fiscal year, citing plans to open between 80 and 90 new stores in fiscal 2004.
For its fiscal fourth quarter ended Feb. 28, 2004, the company said net income rose to U.S. $144.2 million, or $0.47 per share from $105.3 million, or $0.35 per share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average were expecting the company, which operates 581 Bed Bath & Beyond stores in 44 states and Puerto Rico, to earn $0.43 cents per share, according to Reuters Research.
Joan Storms, analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles, CA, U.S., called the quarter "phenomenal" and said the stock may have dipped because some on Wall Street were looking for stronger growth from the Christmas Tree Shops the company acquired in June 2003.
"They had a phenomenal quarter," said Ms. Storms, who has assigned a 'buy' rating on the stock and does not own any shares. She said Christmas Tree sales issue "is very small in the scheme of things."
Bed Bath & Beyond said fiscal fourth quarter sales at the chain of stores selling seasonal gifts and decorations were $87.5 million compared with $86.9 million a year ago in part due to disruptions related to the acquisition.
The seller of pots, pans, small appliances, and decorating items also said same-store sales during the fourth quarter increased about 8.1 percent compared with an increase of about 4.1 percent a year ago.
Bed Bath & Beyond opened six new stores during the quarter to help net sales climb to $1.30 billion from $1.05 billion.
The company also said in a conference call with analysts that its strong quarter was a factor in causing it to raise its 2004 earnings target to a range of $1.53 to $1.56 per share, and $0.25 a share for the first quarter.
Analysts had forecast earnings of $1.53 per share for the full year and $0.24 cents during the first quarter. (Reuters)
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