Financial Reports: Penney, Systemax, Sport Supply Group, More

Direct Sales Improvement at Penney

For the first time in three years, quarterly catalog/Internet sales at J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) improved. For the three months ended July 26, total department stores and direct sales total $3.66 billion, up 1% from $3.62 billion for the second quarter of 2002. Taken separately, catalog and Internet sales increased 4%. Total company sales, which includes revenue from the Eckerd drugstore chain, increased 2%, to $7.31 billion.

Second-quarter LIFO operating profit for the department stores and catalog/Web group more than doubled, to $51 million from $22 million last year. But LIFO operating profits for Eckerd tumbled to $54 million from $73 million last year. Overall, Penney posted a second-quarter net loss of $0.02 a share, an improvement upon the $0.05 a share it lost a year ago.

“We believe our department store and catalog/Internet business will continue to improve in the second half, beginning with the back-to-school selling season,” chairman/CEO Allen Questrom said in a statement. “This improvement reflects greater experience working with our centralized business model and delivering a more compelling value to both department store and catalog/Internet customers.”

Stronger 2Q for Systemax Computer, industrial supplies, and office products manufacturer/marketer Systemax (NYSE: SYX) grew its second-quarter sales 7%. The company also slashed its net loss for the quarter. For the three months ended June 30, the Port Washington, NY-based cataloger lost $1.9 million on sales of $388.8 million. For the second quarter of 2002, Systemax had lost $8.8 million on sales of $363.8 million.

OfficeMax Narrows 2Q Loss Office supplies cataloger/retailer OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX) stemmed losses in the second-quarter loss as sales grew despite the disruption caused by remodeling stores. For the second quarter ended July 26, OfficeMax lost $26.7 million on sales of $1.05 billion. For the comparable quarter of last year, the Cleveland-based company lost $33.4 million on $1.01 billion in sales. OfficeMax expects its acquisition by Boise Cascade to be finalized before the end of the third quarter.

Sales and Income Dip at Sport Supply Group State and federal budget cuts that reduced school spending took a slight toll on sports equipment marketer Sport Supply Group (OTCBB: SSPY) as well. Second-quarter sales at the Dallas-based cataloger slipped 3%, to $25.9 million from $26.8 million last year. But the number of orders entered over its Websites increased 91% for the quarter, while Web sales increased more than 50% from last year. Net income before the cumulative effect of accounting changes fell 26%, to $115,000 for the quarter ended June 27, compared with $210,000 a year ago.

MediaBay Posts a Loss, Sales Decline Cedar Knolls, NJ-based MediaBay (Nasdaq: MBAY), which mails the Radio Spirits catalog of spoken-word tapes, reported a second-quarter net loss of $228,000; during the second quarter of last year, the company had net income of $338,000. Net sales decline 21%, to $9.4 million from $12.0 million last year.

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