Financial reports: Guitar Center, Sharper Image, Tiffany, and more

Sales strike positive chord at Guitar Center

Westlake Village, CA-based Guitar Center (Nasdaq NMS: GTRC), which mails the Musician’s Friend catalog, reported record sales for the fourth quarter and the year ended Dec 31.

Consolidated net sales for the fourth quarter rose 15%, to $335 million from $290 million in 2001. Direct response sales, including those from Musician’s Friend, increased 24%, to $66 million from $53 million. Net sales from retail stores rose 14%, to $269 million; comparable store sales increased 7% for the quarter.

Net sales for the year were $1.10 billion, up 16% from $949 million for 2001. Direct response sales increased 24%, to $209 million from $169 million last year. Retail stores were $892 million, a 14% increase from 2001; comparable store sales increased 6%.

Record December sales lift Sharper Image Cataloger/retailer Sharper Image Corp. (Nasdaq: SHRP) reported a 31% increase in December sales, to $122.4 million from $93.6 million for December 2001. Catalog sales increased 40%, to $24.0 million from $17.1 million. Internet sales, including auction sales, increased 67%, to $18.0 million from $10.8 million. Total store sales increased 22%, to $80.4 million; comparable store sales increased 8%.

The high-tech gadgets marketer has subsequently raised its earnings guidance for the fourth quarter and fiscal year, which end Jan. 31. San Francisco-based Sharper Image’s fourth-quarter earnings expectations are now $1.15-$1.18 per share, up from the previous guidance of $1.12-$1.16 per share.

For the fiscal year, the company guidance is raised to $1.06-$1.09 per share, up from $1.03-$1.07 per share—and a vast improvement upon last year’s fiscal-year earnings of $0.10 per share.

1-800-Flowers.com blooms during holiday season Multichannel marketer 1-800-Flowers.com (Nasdaq: FLWS), whose catalogs include Plow & Hearth, Magic Cabin Dolls, and The Popcorn Factory, anticipates record revenue of approximately $197 million for its fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 29. That’s up 22% from $162 million for the previous second quarter.

The gifts and home goods marketer expects 25% sales growth in its online business, to $75 million. Telephonic sales are expected to rise 22%, to approximately $114 million from $93.6 million last year.

Thanks to tightly managing expenses and skipping aggressive promotions, the Westbury, NY-based company anticipates earnings before income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to grow in excess of 150%, to about $14 million.

Tiffany & Co. holiday sales up 8% Upscale jewelry and gifts cataloger/retailer Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) reported that net sales in the holiday period (Nov. 1 – Dec. 31) increased 8% from those of 2001, to $509.1 million. That increase was below company expectations, however.

Combined Internet/catalog sales rose 20% due to strong e-commerce sales. But business sales declined 3%. U.S. retail sales increased 3%, to $257.2 million. Comparable store sales rose 6% in November and fell 1% in December. International retail sales rose 6%, to $183.9 million.

Tiffany expects total fourth-quarter net sales to be 8%-10% higher than they were last year. The New York-based company has lowered its earnings guidance for the fourth quarter and the fiscal year ending Jan. 31. It now expects net earnings of $0.57-$0.62 per diluted share for the fourth quarter, compared with previous expectations of $0.60-$0.65. This would result in full-year earnings of $1.25-$1.30 per diluted share, compared with $1.15 per diluted share for 2001.

Holiday sales increase 9% at Brookstone Santa delivered strong holiday sales for Nashua, NH-based cataloger/retailer Brookstone (Nasdaq: BKST), whose catalogs include Gardener’s Eden and Hard-to-Find Tools. Despite circulation cuts, sales in the direct-to-customer segment were $25.9 million for the two months ended Jan. 4, a 9% increase from the comparable period of fiscal 2001. Total company sales also increased 9%, to $167.5 million; same-store sales increased 8%.

“Due to the combination of higher than previously anticipated sales and margins, we expect earnings to be materially above our previously announced range of $1.00-$1.05 per share for the fiscal year, which was already a 60% increase in earnings per share over the prior fiscal year,” chairman/president/CEO Michael Anthony said in a statement.

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