Kmart earnings down 39.6 percent, but results beat Wall Street estimates

Tuesday, March 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TROY, Mich. (AP) _ Kmart Corp. reported a 39.6 percent drop in profit for its fiscal fourth quarter, but the results narrowly beat Wall Street expectations.

The nation's third biggest retailer said Tuesday that it earned $249 million, or 48 cents per share, in the three weeks ended Jan. 31. That was down from $412 million, or 77 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial expected earnings of 47 cents per share.

Sales in the latest quarter totaled $11.64 billion compared with $11.10 billion a year earlier.

Sales at stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales, rose 2.1 percent in the quarter from a year earlier and were up 3.3 percent in February. Same-store sales are a key indicator of a retailer's health.

``With our same-store sales increasing ... it is clear that the new Kmart is closing the gap with our competition, and in some cases moving ahead,'' said Kmart chairman and chief executive Chuck Conaway, who is spearheading a turnaround of the company.``With a heightened sense of urgency, we are properly focused on the massive structural and cultural transformation necessary to convert these gains into a strong and sustainable improvement in our financial performance.''

Kmart's business has been bruised by such discounters as Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp.

For the year, Kmart lost $244 million, or 48 cents a share, on revenue of $37.03 billion. It earned $403 million, or $1.22 a share, on sales of $35.92 billion a year earlier.

Kmart took a $463 million after-tax charge in the second quarter last year as it began closing 72 stores. It operates about 2,100 stores.

Kmart shares were down 15 cents at $9 a share in midday trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.