Financial Reports: Dell, Blair, Sharper Image

Record—but Disappointing—Q4 Revenue for Dell
Round Rock, TX-based Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) beat Wall Street analysts’ fourth-quarter profit estimates by a penny per share, but its record quarterly sales were still lower than expected.

For the three months ended Jan. 28, the computer manufacturer/marketer earned $667 million, 11% less than the $749 million in income it had reported a year earlier. Fourth-quarter revenue rose 17%, to $13.46 billion from $11.51 billion the previous year.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 22% in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and 21% in Asia. Sales to U.S. business customers increased 19%.

For its full fiscal year, Dell earnings increased 15%, to $3.04 billion from $2.65 billion the previous year. Revenue rose 19%, to $49.2 billion from $41.4 billion.

For the first fiscal quarter of this year, Dell expects revenue of about $13.4 billion — up 16 % from a year earlier but below the $13.5 billion that analysts were forecasting.

Lower Sales, Higher Earnings for Blair
Circulation cuts and the winding down of its Crossing Pointe women’s apparel business led to a 15% decline in annual revenue for Blair Corp. (Amex: BL). But the elimination of unprofitable mailings along with continued focus on increasing operational efficiencies enabled the apparel and home goods mailer to increase its net income 3%.

For the year ended Dec. 31, 2004, Warren, PA-based Blair netted $14.9 million on sales of $496.1 million. The previous year, it had posted net income of $14.5 million on sales of $581.9 million.

Sharper Image Warns of Gloomy Q1
San Francisco-based Sharper Image Corp. (Nasdaq; SHRP) issued a sobering first-quarter forecast. The cataloger/retailer expects total sales to decrease in the high single digits, with comparable-store sales declining in the low teens. What’s more, the high-tech gadgets merchants expects to post a net loss per share of $0.28-$0.32; last year it had reported first-quarter earnings was $0.13 per fully diluted share.

The prognosis for the full year isn’t much better. It expects comparable store sales to decrease in the mid- to high-single digits. It also expects total company sales to range from a decrease in the low-single digits to an increase in the low-single digits.

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