Financial Updates: Dell, Sharper Image, 1-800 Flowers, Nordstrom, Riddell

Computer giant Dell Corp. reported a net loss of $101 million for the quarter ended Aug. 3. During the same quarter of last year, net income was $603 million. Revenue declined 8%, to $7.61 billion from $7.67 billion last year. Gross margin was 18%, down from 21% a year ago.

Net income from operations, excluding charges, was $433 million, or $0.16 a share, matching the consensus expectation of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call. On July 19, Austin, TX-based Dell had said it would hit its targets, but that it would also take a charge of $700 million for restructuring and investments. The actual amount of the charge was $742 million. In May, Dell lowered the market’s expectation for earnings to a range of $0.15-$0.17 a share from $0.18 a share.

Also posting a loss was cataloger/retailer Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP). At least the upscale gadgets marketer had some good news to report on the sales side: Second-quarter revenue rose 4%, to $82.8 million for the three months ended July 31. Catalog sales accounted for all of the increase, and in fact compensated for a 14% drop in comparable-store sales. For the quarter, the upscale gadgets marketer’s catalog division accounted for $21.8 million in revenue, up 40% from $15.6 million a year ago. The company credits increased circulation and television infomercials for its Ionic Breeze Quadra Silent Air Purifier and other proprietary items for the jump in sales. Web sales decreased 7%, to $9.9 million from $10.6 million.

The success of the catalog division wasn’t enough to stave off the red ink, however. The San Francisco-based company posted a second-quarter net loss of $3.7 million; last year it reported second-quarter net income of $1.2 million. The loss reflects softer sales against higher advertising spending and increased infrastructure costs.

Second-quarter net earnings at Seattle-based cataloger/retailer Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN) declined 15%, to $38.7 million from $45.4 million last year, which was in line with company guidance and Wall Street estimates. Net sales rose 6%, to $1.55 billion. Nordstrom did not break out catalog and Web sales.

Riddell Sports (Amex: RDL), the parent company of the Varsity Spirit catalog of cheerleading and dance team products, posted a net loss of $16.2 million for the quarter ended June 30. Its June sale of the team sports business, which it reported as a discontinued operation, accounted for the loss. Net revenue increased 14%, to $56.9 million from $49.1 million. The Memphis, TN-based company will seek the approval of shareholders to change the its name to Varsity Brands.

One company that enjoyed both a top-line and a bottom-line boost was 1-800-Flowers (NASDAQ: FLWS). Higher gross profit margin and reduced operating expenses led the Westbury, NY-based company to post a net profit of $226,000 for the quarter ended July 1. For the comparable period of last year, the multichannel gifts marketer lost $12.9 million. Online revenue increased 33%, to $62.7 million, compared with $47.1 million last year, while “telephonic” revenue fell 8%, to $61.6 million from $66.8 million. In addition to its core brand, 1-800-Flowers owns country lifestyle cataloger Plow & Hearth and several children’s products titles it bought this past spring from Foster & Gallagher.

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