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Pier 1 Imports in the black

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Pier 1 Imports returned to black in the fourth quarter, and recorded its first comparable-store sales gain in 17 quarters.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based company had earnings of $13.7 million, up from a net loss of $58.7 million in the same period last year. Sales declined for the fourth quarter, down 7.8 percent to $436.7 million from $473.7 million last year.

“Total sales were negatively impacted by the net closure of 79 stores,” the company said in a statement, adding that last year’s fourth quarter included an additional week by comparison. Comparable-store sales rose 2.5 percent.

The company saw a big decline in costs related to personnel and marketing — this included “savings of approximately $13.6 million in payroll, $9 million in marketing expense and $11.9 million in other general administrative costs when compared to the same period last year.”

For the full year, the company saw much narrower losses. Pier 1 lost $96 million in the most recent fiscal year, compared with $227.6 million in the prior year.

Pier 1’s president and CEO Alex W. Smith said the fourth quarter was “energizing” as customers began returning to Pier 1 stores.

“We have confidence that if we concentrate on developing powerful assortments that speak to our customer base and further enhance our customer service and in-store presentation, that we will continue making progress in returning our company to profitability and beyond,” he said.

Regarding the sale of the company’s headquarters, announced last month, Pier 1 Imports noted the transaction is expected to close no later than June 30.

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Bed Bath & Beyond declines in fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Specialty retailer Bed Bath & Beyond posted weaker fourth-quarter earnings, due in part to an extra week in last year’s fourth quarter. The company saw earnings of $172.9 million, down 16 percent from $205.8 million in the same period last year.

Net sales for the fourth quarter were $1.93 billion, down 3 percent from last year’s fourth quarter. Comparable-store sales for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2007 decreased by 0.4 percent.

For the fiscal year, which again was one week shorter than the previous fiscal year, the company saw earnings decline 5.3 percent to $562.8 million from $594.2 million a year ago.

Net sales for the year were $7.049 billion, an increase of 6.5 percent from last year. Year-over-year, comparable-store sales increased by 1 percent. The company opened 22 new stores in the fourth quarter, including its first location in Canada.

The retailer said it expects comparable-store sales to be relatively flat or negative in 2008. Bed Bath & Beyond also warned investors it expects a per-share percentage decline in 2008 earnings from the low double-digits to mid-teens.

Bed Bath & Beyond operates a total of 971 stores nationwide.

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Canfor reduces production

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Vancouver, B.C.-based Canfor is reducing its production volume to reflect market realities. The company pointed to “falling demand and poor pricing for softwood lumber with no indications of a market recovery in the near future.”

Canfor will be reducing workweeks at a number of its operations. In addition, Canfor’s Prince George Sawmill will move from three shifts to two and its Clear Lake finger joint operation from two shifts to one. This move will reduce Canfor’s annualized lumber production by approximately 600 million board feet.

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