Financial Reports: Brooks Brothers, Transmation, Staples, Talbots…

Double-Digit Annual Operating Profit Growth for Brooks Brothers

New York—Apparel cataloger/retailer Brooks Brothers, a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based retailer Marks & Spencer, reported a 135% increase in annual operating profit. For the fiscal year ended March 31, it reported operating profit of $29.8 million compared with $12.7 million for the previous year. Sales increased a more modest 3%, to $661.1 million from $640.3 million.

Transmation Measures a Profit for the Year

Rochester, NY–Test, measurement, and calibration equipment manufacturer/marketer Transmation (Nasdaq: TRNS) transformed last year’s annual net loss into a profit this year. For the fiscal year ended March 31, Transmation reported net income of $513,142. Last year the company lost $2.5 million, primarily from one-time pretax charges relating to inventory write-downs, severance payments, bank charges, and uncollectible accounts totaling approximately $3.6 million.

The bottom-line turnaround came despite a 5% dip in annual sales, from $79.9 million to $75.6 million.

Staples.com Posts Its First Operating Profit

Framingham, MA–Office supplies retail chain Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS), which is also the parent company of cataloger Quill, reported 4% first-quarter sales growth and flat net income. On the brighter side, its online business, Staples.com, reported an operating profit for the first time. For its quarter ended May 5, total sales were $2.7 billion, up from $2.6 billion for the same period last year. Net income for the quarter was $40.0 million. Web revenue climbed 182%, to $213.0 million.

Talbots Enjoys Record Quarterly Income

Hingham, MA-–Despite the slowing economy, women’s apparel cataloger/retailer The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) continues to crank out strong numbers. First-quarter net sales grew 10%, to $401.1 million for the quarter ended May 5 from $363.5 million a year ago. Catalog sales increased 15%, to $78.0 million from $68.1 million, while retail store sales rose 9%, to $323.1 million. Net income rose 23%, to $40.1 million–a company record–from $32.7 million last year.

Earnings Plunge 93% at Victoria’s Secret Parent

Columbus, OH–Multichannel marketer Intimate Brands (NYSE: IBI), which includes cataloger/retailers Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works, saw its first-quarter net income plummet 93%, to $35.1 million for the three months ended May 5. Total first-quarter sales fell 2%, to $1.03 billion from $1.05 billion a year ago.

NM Direct Ekes Out 3% Rise in Quarterly Sales

Chestnut Hill, MA—For the three months ended April 28, the catalog division of The Neiman Marcus Group (NYSE: NMG.A) posted sales of $88.0 million. That’s an increase of 3% from $85.2 million a year prior. Sales gains within NM Direct’s Chef’s Catalog and Horchow businesses offset weaker apparel sales from the flagship title. NM Direct’s operating earnings fell 6%, from $7.1 million to $6.7 million, largely because of increased paper and circulation costs. The company’s total sales for the quarter dipped less than 1%, to $681.5 million from $683.8 million.

Saks Direct 1Q Sales Down Nearly 8%

Birmingham, AL—Soft demand and reduced circulation combined to produce a nearly 8% drop in sales for the Saks Direct division of department-store chain Saks (NYSE:SKS). For the three months ended May 5, catalog sales were $35.4 million, compared with $38.3 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2000. The company’s total net sales for the quarter were flat at $1.5 billion, while total net income fell 22%, to $26.5 million from $33.9 million.

Brookstone’s Net Loss Increases

Nashua, NH–Cataloger/retailer Brookstone (Nasdaq: BKST), which mails the Brookstone Gift Collection, Hard-to-Find Tools, and Gardener’s Eden titles, reported a net loss of $5.2 million for the first quarter ended May 5, 4% greater than its net loss of $5.0 million a year ago. Total first-quarter net sales increased 8%, to $55.0 million compared to $51.1 million last year. Brookstone expects to rev up performance by introducing 30 new products and opening 14-19 additional stores. Brookstone also said it plans to open two more Gardener’s Eden stores this year.

Double-Digit Declines at Jos. A. Bank

Hampstead, MD—Cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NASDAQ: JOSB) suffered a 53% drop in first-quarter net income, to $506,000 for the three months ended May 5. Last year’s first-quarter net income was nearly $1.1 million. First-quarter sales for men’s apparel marketer inched up a scant 2%, to $47.4 million from $46.4 million last year. Catalog sales decreased 19%, though Internet sales increased 138%. Combined catalog and Web sales increased 2% for the quarter.

Inventory Control Helps Too Grow Quarterly Earnings

Columbus, OH—Apparel cataloger/retailer Too (NYSE: TOO), which markets to preteen girls, reported an 18% increase in first-quarter net income, to $3.8 million from $3.1 million last year. The marketer attributes the growth to more effective inventory management and controlling expenses. At the same time, net sales increased 15%, to $136.7 million from $118.8 million a year ago.

Urban Outfitters Reports First Quarter Results

Philadelphia—First-quarter net sales at apparel and home décor marketer Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN) increased 9%, to $71.8 million for the quarter ended April 30. Direct response revenue increased 11%, to $6.3 million from $5.6 million, because of increased customer response to the Anthropologie catalog and Website and sales generated by the Urban Outfitters site. Wholesale sales sank by 31%, however. And net income plummeted to $1.2 million from $3.0 million last year.

Hydron Technologies Sees Sales, Earnings Drop

Boca Raton, FL—Personal care products manufacturer/marketer Hydron Technologies (OTC Bulletin Board: HTEC) widened its net loss to $220,163 for its quarter ended March 31, compared to a net loss of $148,454 for the first quarter of 2000. At the same time, net sales decreased 53%, to $329,693 from $672,390, because of a lack of airtime on two cable home-shopping networks. But catalog sales increased 33%, to $305,684 from $229,581, due to increased mailings and catalog promotions.

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