Financial Reports: Penney, PC Mall, Aramark and More

Penney Posts 22% Bottom-Line Boost
Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) reported a 22% increase in first-quarter income, to $210 million for the three months ended April 29. Cost-cutting and increased sales of private-label clothing, which have higher profit margins than outside apparel, were credited for much of the boost.

Overall sales for the first quarter rose a more modest 2.5%, to $4.22 million for the three months ended April 29. Direct sales rose 4%, largely due to a 22% increase in sales at Comparable department store sales increased more than 1%, while total department store sales increased 2%.

PC Mall Narrows 1Q Net Loss Despite a 2% decline in first-quarter sales, Torrance, CA-based PC Mall (Nasdaq: MALL) pared its net loss from nearly $3.0 million last year to $55,000 for the three months ended March 31. For the quarter just ended, the computer reseller had net sales of $234.2 million, compared with $238.4 million for the first quarter of 2005. The improved bottom line was due in part to an 18% decrease in consumer advertising spending and other cost reductions.

Aramark Sets 2Q Sales Record, Despite Dip in Direct
Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. (NYSE: RMK) reported record sales of $2.83 billion for the second fiscal quarter of 2006, a 6% increase over last year. Net income increased 10%, to $59 million.

But sales from its direct-marketing business–public-safety supplier Galls, workwear merchant WearGuard (whose catalogs have been rebranded to reflect the parent company), and Crest Uniform Healthcare–fell slightly. For the three months ended March 31, the division had sales of $102.6 million, down from last year’s $103.4 million.

Sales Rise 11% for Sportsman’s Guide
Although first-quarter sales at South St. Paul, MN-based The Sportsman’s Guide (Nasdaq: SGDE) rose 11%, income declined 4%, because of the adoption of SFAS 123R, which requires all share-based payments, including grants of stock options, to be recognized as an operating expense.

For the three months ended March 31, the direct marketer of outdoor gear had net earnings of $2.2 million on sales of $71.6 million. For the first quarter of last year, Sportsman’s Guide had netted $2.3 million on $64.6 million in sales. Increased Web sales accounted for most of the revenue growth. For the Sportsman’s Guide brand, sales rose more than 10%. Within its Golf Warehouse division, net sales increased 13%

On May 5, New York-based multititle cataloger Redcats USA announced a definitive agreement to acquire The Sportsman’s Guide for $31 a share, or roughly $265 million (see “Unlikely Bedfellows: Redcats USA to Buy Sportsman’s Guide”).

Urban Outfitters Direct Sales Up 17%, Income Down 26%
Philadelphia-based apparel and home decor merchant Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN), which mails the Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters titles, reported a 17% increase in its direct-to-consumer business, which includes the Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters catalogs. For the three months ended April 30, catalog/Internet sales were $33.5 million, up from $28.7 million for the first quarter of 2005.

Total company net sales increased 17% as well, to $270 million. But comparable store sales fell 3%. And net income tumbled 26%, from $27.4 million to $20.4 million.

Galloping Growth for Dover Saddlery
First-quarter catalog/Internet revenue at Littleton, MA-based equestrian products merchant Dover Saddlery (Nasdaq: DOVR) increased 16%, to nearly $15.0 million for the three months ended March 31. Retail sales increased 51%, to $2.1 million. Total revenue increased 20%, to $17.0 million. And net income increased to $196,000 from $36,000 for the first quarter in 2005.

In addition to its core catalog of products for English riding, Dover markets via the Smith Brothers catalog for Western riders.

Revenue, Operating Loss Up for Bluefly
Bluefly (NasdaqSC: BFLY), an online merchant of discounted designer apparel and decor, posted a 25% leap in first-quarter revenue, to $16.9 million from $13.5 million in 2005. But the New York-based company’s operating loss grew too: For the three months ended March 31, it reported a $3.1 million operating loss, up from $736,000 a year ago. Officials attributed the wider loss to the adoption of SFAS123, whereby the company recorded $612,000 of compensation expense in connection with employee stock options, and a year-over-year incremental increase of $2.9 million in spending related to a national advertising campaign

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