Holiday sales boost Nordstrom earnings

/ Source: The Associated Press

Nordstrom Inc. said Tuesday that fourth-quarter earnings rose 34 percent, helped by strong demand for its clothing fashions during a quarter that included the all-important holiday season.

For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, the Seattle-based clothing chain reported earnings of $140 million or $1 per share, up from $104 million or 74 cents per share in the comparable period last year.

The company said the most recent quarterly earnings were reduced by $4.7 million, or 3 cents per share, because of a non-cash correction related to the company's lease accounting policy. Without the charge, the company would have earned $1.03 per share, just beating analysts' expectations. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting quarterly earnings of $1.02 per share on revenue of $2.08 billion.

Revenue for the quarter rose 9.4 percent to $2.1 billion, from $1.92 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The company said performance was helped by fashion offerings that customers liked, as well as some operating efficiencies. Same-store sales — a key measure for the retail industry — rose 7.2 percent for the quarter, more than the company had been expecting.

For the current first quarter, Nordstrom said it expects earnings to range from 62 cents to 67 cents per share. For the full fiscal year ending Jan. 28, 2006, it expects earnings in the range of $3.25 to $3.35 per share.

For the first quarter, analysts are expecting earnings of 66 cents per share, with estimates ranging from 60 cents to 76 cents. For the full year, analysts said they expected earnings of $3.23 per share, with estimates between $2.98 and $3.70 per share.

For the full fiscal year ended in January, Nordstrom said it earned $393.5 million or $2.77 per share, up from $242.8 million or $1.76 per share in the prior fiscal year. Full-year revenue was $7.13 billion, up from $6.45 billion in the year earlier.

The results were released after the markets closed. Nordstrom shares rose 81 cents to close at $51.56 in regular trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. In after-hours trading, the shares fell 3 cents.