HILLS' LOSS GROWS IN QUARTER

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK--Citing severance and refinancing costs, Hills Department Stores reported Monday a second-quarter net loss of $45.2 million versus a loss of $3.6 million a year earlier.
The most recent loss reflects a post-tax charge of $35.6 million, or $3.65 per share, including severance payments and taxes on those payouts, as well as retirement payments. The payouts were made after Dickstein Partners won control of Hills on July 5 following a proxy fight.
Sales in the quarter ended July 29 grew 3.7 percent to $389.4 million from $375.6 million. Comparable-store sales edged up 0.4 percent to $376.3 million.
Hills estimated it will earn $2.50 per share in 1995, excluding nonrecurring charges and credits, according to analysts who participated in a conference call Monday with the chain's executives. The retailer, which operates 159 stores in 12 Midwest and mid-Atlantic states, earned $3.34 per share in 1994.
"Hills stressed its reliance on its differentiation in apparel," said Janet Mangano, analyst at Midlantic Corp. Apparel produces 50 percent of Hills' sales and 60 percent of its profits.
Hills stock lost 1/4 to close at 16 1/2 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. The issue, which closed at 20 1/2 on July 19, has plunged since Dickstein withdrew its $27-per-share bid for the discounter on July 20.
Hills said Monday it has retained Bear Stearns & Co. as its financial adviser on any bids to acquire the Canton, Mass.-based chain. Hills management will review the chain's business plan with financial analysts and shareholders in New York on Aug. 30.

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