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Williams-Sonoma Earnings Soar

November 20, 2002|Delbert Ellerton | Bloomberg News

SAN FRANCISCO — Williams-Sonoma Inc. said Tuesday that its third-quarter profit more than tripled as the company introduced a credit card and sold more furniture. Profit this year will be higher than the retailer expected.

Net income rose to $15.1 million, or 13 cents a share, from $3.85 million, or 3 cents, a year earlier, the company said. Revenue in the three months ended Nov. 3 rose 14% to $527.9 million from $462.1 million.

Williams-Sonoma introduced a credit card for shoppers at its Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids stores and sold more lamps, beds, comforters, pillows and nursery furniture. Chief Executive Dale Hilpert has been shedding slow-selling merchandise and cutting costs by working with suppliers to get some inventory delivered directly to stores. That has improved availability of popular items.

"They feed the stores with new merchandise on a monthly basis," said Kristine Koerber, an analyst at WR Hambrecht & Co. who rates the shares a "buy" and said she doesn't own them. "It keeps the merchandise fresh." Consumers returned less merchandise, and the company increased revenue from shipping fees, Hilpert said.

Williams-Sonoma shares rose 35 cents to $23.70 in New York Stock Exchange trading. They have risen 24% in the last year.

Full-year profit will be $1.03 or $1.04 a share, higher than the company's previous forecast of $1 to $1.02, Williams-Sonoma said.

Analysts expected the San Francisco-based company to earn 10 cents a share in the third quarter and $1.02 for the year, the average estimates in a Thomson First Call survey.

The company had 477 stores as of Nov. 3, up from 412 in October 2001. Sales at stores open a year or more rose 2.8% in the quarter, after declining 1.1% a year earlier.

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