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Hot Topic's Earnings Climb 36%

March 04, 2004|Leslie Earnest | Times Staff Writer

Hot Topic Inc. logged a 36% increase in quarterly profit as teens continued to collect its music-themed T-shirts and accessories. It was the retailer's 32nd straight quarter of earnings growth.

The City of Industry-based parent of 561 Hot Topic and Torrid stores said fourth-quarter net income rose to $22.5 million, or 45 cents a share, in the period ended Jan. 31, compared with $16.6 million, or 34 cents, a year ago.

The results beat analysts' consensus estimate of 44 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

Sales jumped 31% to $194.1 million from $148.3 million. Sales at stores open at least a year -- a key financial measure for retailers -- rose 8.5% in the quarter.

Offering a glimpse into the current quarter, the company said sales swelled 32% to $39.5 million in February, while same-store sales rose 7.6%.

"Their business is just really solid," said Elizabeth Pierce, an analyst with Sanders Morris Harris.

The retailer of clothes, gifts and accessories has been one of retail's brightest stars of late. Its mix of merchandise caters to teens with a penchant for sporting the logo of their favorite band or a particular look, such as gothic or punk.

The company's Torrid chain targets plus-size teens and young women.

For the year, earnings rose 39% to $48 million, or 97 cents a share, compared with $34.6 million, or 70 cents, in fiscal 2002. Sales rose 29% to $572 million, and same-store sales rose 7.4%.

In a conference call with analysts, the company said it expected per-share profit of 11 cents in the current quarter, 14 cents in the second quarter and about $1.16 for the year.

Hot Topic's stock closed at $28.77, down 13 cents on Nasdaq. The earnings results were released after the market closed.

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