Financial Reports: Bean, Coldwater, J. Jill, and More

Bean Ends 2005 with Record Sales
Freeport, ME-based outdoor gear, apparel, and home goods merchant L.L. Bean posted record annual net sales of $1.47 billion for the fiscal year ended Feb. 26. That’s a 4% increase from fiscal 2004’s net sales of $1.41 billion. The company also said it set a record for customer acquisition.

In addition, e-commerce revenue grew 28%. In December 2005 the Bean Website was the company’s dominant sales channel for the first time.

Hot Numbers for Coldwater Creek
Women’s apparel cataloger/retailer Coldwater Creek (Nasdaq: CWDR) turned in some pretty scorching numbers for the fourth quarter and full year ended Jan. 28. The Sandpoint, ID-based merchant posted a 66% increase in net income, to $18.9 million, for the quarter. Net sales for the quarter soared 41%, to $287.9 million.

For the year, net income increased 61%, to $46.8 million from $29.1 million for fiscal 2004. Net sales rose 34%, to $788.2 million from $590.3 million.

Fourth-quarter sales from the retail segment increased 68%, to $165.5 million. Net retail sales for the year increased 55%, to $459.6 million. Catalog/Internet net sales rose 16%, to $122.4 million, for the fourth quarter, and 12%, to $328.6 million, for the year.

“Our positive results for the fourth quarter were due to a combination of compelling merchandise and the effectiveness of our triple-channel marketing strategy, which resulted in strong full-price selling and increased profitability for the period,” chairman/CEO Dennis Pence said in a statement.

J. Jill Annual Income Down 83%
A strong fourth-quarter for Quincy, MA-based J. Jill Group (Nasdaq: JILL) wasn’t enough to reverse a year-over-year slide in annual income.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, the women’s apparel merchant’s sales were $131.0 million, up 10% from $119.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2004. Net income for the quarter rose 17%, to $3.0 million.

For the fiscal year, net sales were $449.7 million, up more than 3% from $434.9 million for 2004. But net income fell 83%, to $1.5 million from $8.7 million. Catalog/Internet net sales fell 17%, to $160.0 million.

President/CEO Gordon Cooke attributed the company’s disappointing results to customer dissatisfaction. “Over the past couple of years we have endeavored to broaden the appeal of the J. Jill brand by standardizing our fits, improving the quality of our apparel, increasing the penetration of color and novelty in our assortment, and becoming more contemporary in our design elements,” he said in a statement. “While we believe we have achieved success with respect to improving the quality and fit of our apparel, some of the changes we made with respect to color, novelty, and silhouette were not well received by our customer.”

Cooke added that the company is taking steps in the merchandising and design areas to “modify our strategy and adjust our merchandise offerings in the future, the most important of which is refocusing our attention on our core customer.” The company, he said, plans to “return to neutral, subtle, wardrobe-building colors and relaxed, forgiving styling.”

NM Direct Q2 Revenue Up 13%
Dallas-based luxury merchant Neiman Marcus Group (NYSE: NMG.A) reported a 36% jump in scond-quarter operating earnings for Neiman Marcus Direct, which consists of the print catalog and online operations for Neiman Marcus and Horchow and the Bergdorf Goodman Website.

For the fiscal quarter ended Jan. 28, the division’s operating earnings reached $37.9 million. Direct revenue increased 13%, to $213.0 million, while total revenue for the quarter rose more than 6%, to $1.23 billion.

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