Toys R Us Inc. said its profit plunged 57% in the third quarter to $20 million, or 8 cents a share, as competition from discount chains continued to hurt sales. Revenue at the world's biggest toy retailer inched up 1.4% to $2.17 billion. Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year were down 5%. A lack of a hot-selling toy such as last year's "Star Wars" action figures also hurt sales and is expected to crimp holiday sales as well. Toys R Us said in September that it will close about 90 stores, shut distribution centers and fire as many as 3,000 employees to save more than $75 million in 1999, and more each year after that. The current results exclude a previously announced charge of $495 million for the company's latest restructuring. Toys R Us also began redesigning stores to stock more electronics and clothing to woo shoppers during the fourth quarter, the most important period for retailers. Shares in Paramus, N.J.-based Toys R Us rose 88 cents to close at $20.81 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Other earnings, excluding one-time gains and charges unless noted:
* Breed Technologies Inc., maker of air bags, said its loss widened in its fiscal first quarter to $28.5 million, or 77 cents a share, from $4.2 million, or 13 cents, a year ago. Breed cited the summer strikes at General Motors Corp., one of its largest customers, and lower-than-expected cost savings. Sales rose 74% to $339.1 million.
* Lowe's Cos. said its third-quarter earnings rose 32% to $116.4 million, or 33 cents a share, 2 cents better than forecasts. The home improvement retailer's sales jumped 19% to $3 billion as sales at stores open at least a year grew 4.4%.
* Tiffany & Co.'s third-quarter earnings rose 5.7% to $12.1 million, or 34 cents a share, matching forecasts, as the jewelry retailer's revenue grew 8.4% to $252.6 million, largely on strong sales in Japan. Sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year fell 1%.
* Tyson Foods Inc. said profit rose 36% to $65.1 million, or 28 cents a share, in its fiscal fourth quarter, in line with estimates, as sales jumped 25% to $2.07 billion. However, the poultry and hog processor warned that exports, particularly to Russia and Asia, will continue to weaken in the months ahead.