Financial Reports: Penney, Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle

Direct Business Up at J.C. Penney

The direct division of Plano, TX-based cataloger/retailer J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) enjoyed its first year-over-year sales growth following several years of repositioning. But the catalog and Internet unit’s gains were not enough to offset the financial impact of the company’s decision to account for the bite that the Eckerd Drugstore chain and Mexico store operations took out of the bottom line.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003, ended Jan. 31, combined department store and catalog/Internet sales were $6.1 billion, up 6% from the previous fourth quarter. Nonetheless, Penney posted a fourth-quarter loss of $1.1 billion.

For the year, sales totaled $17.8 billion, compared with $17.6 billion the previous year. Internet sales alone exceeded $600 million, up about 50% from the previous year. Again, though, Penney lost $928 million, compared with net income of $405 million for fiscal 2002.

Victoria’s Secret Direct Up for the Quarter, Year
Buried deep inside the financial reports at Columbus, OH-based Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD) you’ll see that subsidiary Victoria’s Secret reported sales gains for both the fourth quarter and year.

For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, Limited Brands’ total sales were $3.23 billion, up 9% from the previous year. Fourth-quarter sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct increased 9% at well, to $328.7 million. On a reported basis, net income increased 10%, to $387.6 million from $352.9 million the previous fourth quarter.

For the year, total net sales increased 6%, to $8.93 billion from $8.45 billion for fiscal 2002. Annual sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct grew 6%, to $995.6 million. On a reported basis, net income jumped 43%, to $716.8 million from $501.7 million.

American Eagle Enjoys Solid Direct Growth
Warrendale, PA-based apparel marketer American Eagle Outfitters (Nasdaq: AEOS) reported a 5% increase in fourth-quarter sales, to $517.3 million for the three months ended Jan. 31. Catalog and Internet sales climbed 14%, to $21.6 million from $18.9 million the previous fourth quarter. Comparable store sales fell 5%. Adjusted net income for the quarter, which excludes a noncash goodwill impairment charge, increased 7%, to $41.5 million.

For the fiscal year, total sales increased 4%, to $1.52 billion from $1.46 billion in 2002. Direct sales rose 20%, to $54.6 million from $45.6 million. Comparable store sales fell 7%, however. Adjusted net income, which excludes noncash goodwill impairment charges, dropped to $74.1 million from $88.7 million.

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