Financial Reports: J. Jill, Playboy, Federated, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney

J. Jill’s Back in the Black

Quincy, MA–Women’s apparel marketer J. Jill (Nasdaq: Jill) returned to profitability for its quarter and year-end results. Net income for the quarter and year ended Dec. 30 totaled $6.7 million vs. a net loss of $1.5 million last year. Net sales for the fourth quarter increased 44%, to $88.4 million, from $61.2 million reported in the prior year. The company attributes this primarily to increased productivity per catalog mailed.

As for the fiscal year, J. Jill’s net sales decreased 2%, to $246.3 million compared to $250.3 million in the prior year. But net income for the year was $12.8 million vs. a loss of $684,000 last year. Additionally, J. Jill’s selling, general and administrative (SGA) expenses declined from 34.4% to 22.4% as a percentage of net sales.

Playboy Set to Sell Collectors Choice, Announces Results

Chicago– Playboy Enterprises reported a net loss of $8 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, a huge drop from net income of more than $200,000 for the same period a year earlier. Fourth quarter revenue declined 14%, to $79.5 million from $92.4 million in last year’s fourth quarter, which Playboy attributed to the October 2000 sale of its Critics’ Choice Video catalog.

For the quarter, Playboy’s catalog division reported earnings before income, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of $300,000, down from $1.6 million in the prior year’s quarter. Revenue fell to $4.2 million from $16.5 million in the 1999 fourth quarter. The company said it is in the process of selling its Collectors’ Choice Music catalog.

Fingerhut Catalog Drags on Federated Earnings

Cincinnati—The bad news continues at Federated as it tries to fix the credit problems at troubled catalog subsidiary Fingerhut. For the 14-week fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, Federated Department Stores (NYSE: FD), which mails the Fingerhut, Macy’s By Mail and Bloomingdale’s By Mail catalogs, direct-to-customer sales, which include catalog and Internet, fell 26%, to $575 million, from $775 million during the 13-week fourth quarter of 1999. The company attributes the drop-off to weak sales resulting in inventory liquidations at the Bloomingdale’s By Mail catalog, as well as the downsizing at Fingerhut. Total Federated net income for the quarter fell 26%, to $332 million, from $448 million a year ago. Sales for the quarter rose to $6.12 billion from $5.97 billion a year ago.

Fiscal Year Earnings Tumble at Nordstrom

Seattle–Cataloger/retailer Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN) reported net sales for fiscal 2000 increased 7.4%, to $5.5 billion, compared to net sales of $5.1 billion last year. But net earnings tumbled 50%, to $101.9 million from 202.5 million in fiscal 1999. Nordstrom says that its Fiscal 2000 results were reduced approximately $56 million in nonrecurring charges related to write-offs of an investment in Streamline.com, an internet grocery and consumer goods delivery company, and technology investments.

Fourth quarter net income decreased 60%, to $27 million, compared to $66.5 million in the fourth quarter of 1999. Total company sales for the quarter were $1.7 billion, compared to $1.5 billion in the year ago quarter.

As for Nordstrom.com, which includes the Internet and catalog businesses, fourth quarter sales were $87.5 million, compared to sales of $77.3 million last year. Nordstrom’s pretax operating loss was $4.7 million, compared to $15.2 million in the quarter a year ago. Fiscal 2000 sales for Nordstrom.com were $310.6 million, compared to sales of $235 million last year. The pretax operating loss was $29.4 million, compared to $35.7 million for 1999.

Penney’s Quarterly Catalog Sales Off 3%

Plano, TX–Troubled cataloger/retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) reported a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of $284 million for the quarter ended Jan. 27, primarily to store closings and inventory write-downs. In the quarter a year ago, Penney’s suffered a loss of $12 million.

Catalog sales for the quarter ended Jan. 27, fell 3%, to $5.92 billion, from $6.2 billion. J.C. Penney said in a statement it will take at least two to five years to restore profitability to competitive levels.

The latest quarter included a $285 million pretax charge for closing 47 underperforming Penney department stores and outlet centers, consolidating Eckerd drugstore regional offices and reducing the company’s work force. The company also took a $135 million charge related to inventory reduction at the department stores and Eckerd. Revenue fell to $9.75 billion from the year-earlier $9.83 billion.

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