FINANCIAL FLASH

Apparel sales stayed soft, but fourth-quarter profits at Fred Meyer Inc. climbed to $18.6 million, or 67 cents a share, from year-ago profits of $8.6 million, or 30 cents, which were hurt by labor strikes. Earnings at the 137-unit general merchandiser beat Wall Street’s mean estimate by 6 cents a share. Sales gained 16 percent to $966 million, as same-store volume rose 3.9 percent. Same-store sales of apparel edged up 1.1 percent, but food sales gained 8.6 percent. For 1995, earnings increased 77 percent to $30.3 million, or $1.07, as sales rose 9.6 percent to $3.43 billion. After the quarterly report last Wednesday, Salomon Bros. raised Meyer’s stock to “buy” from “hold.” The issue closed unchanged Friday at 27 7/8 on the New York Stock Exchange.

One-time charges of $45 million, stemming mostly from the February acquisition of Younkers Inc., led to a fourth-quarter loss of $21.5 million at Proffitt’s Inc. Before the charges, Proffitt’s earned $22.2 million, or $1.12 a share, about even with year-ago earnings of $21.8 million, or $1.12. Sales in the quarter edged up 1 percent to $433 million. Same-store sales also crept ahead 1 percent. The 103-unit department store chain, based in Knoxville, Tenn., lost $8.5 million for the full year after the charges. Excluding those costs, earnings increased 24 percent to $36.9 million, or $1.81. Sales advanced 9 percent to $1.32 billion, and rose 3 percent in stores open at least one year.

Jay Jacobs, the 136-unit specialty retailer, notched its first quarterly profit in more than three years, netting $261,000, or 4 cents a share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 27. The company lost $753,000 a year ago. The Seattle-based chain, which closed 120 stores during an 18-month Chapter 11 reorganization that ended last November, said sales fell 18.5 percent to $18.6 million. Same-store sales were flat. Jay Jacobs cut its full-year loss to $2.8 million, despite a 19.5 percent drop in revenue to $72.9 million. Comparable-store sales were off 2 percent.

Fueled by store expansion and robust wholesale business, fourth-quarter profits at Urban Outfitters Inc. soared 40 percent to $3.6 million, or 41 cents a share, topping Wall Street’s average earnings estimate by a penny per share. Sales climbed 17 percent to $36.4 million. Same-store sales rose 3 percent. For the full year, profits at the 26-unit specialty chain leaped 13 percent to $12.3 million, or $1.40, as sales surged 21 percent to $133 million. Same-store sales grew 3 percent. New and expanded stores produced $19 million, or 14.3 percent of sales in 1995. Wholesale volume was up 8 percent to $21.7 million.

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