By and  on September 7, 2005

NEW YORK — The Neiman Marcus Group Inc. ended its last year as a public company on a record note.

The upscale specialty chain on Tuesday delivered one of its best quarters ever with earnings growth in the last months of the fiscal year of 66.8 percent on a revenue gain of 8.5 percent, and a same-store sales jump of 9.6 percent.

"We are very pleased with 2005. It was a record-breaking year, the second in a row," Burt Tansky, president and chief executive, said in an interview. "We overachieved our objectives. There was strength in virtually every category. Apparel was very strong, as well as accessories and shoes, and our men's business came up substantially.

Added Tansky: "The luxury boom continues. The demographics are in our favor. The wealth factor is growing. The transfer of wealth from parent to child will continue for the next 25 years. The desire for luxury is continuing. The cycle is not near its completion."

Tansky said that, since May 2003, the retailer has posted high-single to double-digit same-store sales increases. "The quality of our business continues to grow, and our level of service always continues to get better. We exceed our customers' expectations on their shopping experiences."

For the fourth quarter ended July 30, net income jumped to $34.3 million, or 69 cents a diluted share, from $20.6 million, or 42 cents, in the same year-ago quarter. After adjustments — such as the sale of the company's credit card portfolio to HSBC Retail Services and certain tax benefits in the current quarter, as well as adjustments in the year-ago period in connection with its Chef's Catalog trade name — earnings were $26 million, or 53 cents a diluted share, versus $23 million, or 47 cents, a year ago.

Revenues in the quarter rose to $851.4 million from $784.5 million. The company said sales at its specialty retail stores business — under the Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman nameplates — rose 8 percent to $687 million from $636 million.

Revenues at Neiman Marcus increased 7 percent, while those at Bergdorf Goodman gained 14.5 percent. Comps at Neiman Marcus stores were up 6.4 percent. The company did not provide same-store sales results at its Bergdorf's business. In its direct marketing segment, revenues rose 7.2 percent to $134 million from $125 million. The company's "other" category, which includes the operations of the Kate Spade and Laura Mercier brands, saw revenues spike 30.4 percent to $30 million from $23 million.

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