SEATTLE — Helped by improved inventory control and strong women’s apparel sales, Nordstrom Inc. reported profits rose 14.5 percent in the fourth quarter and jumped 44.5 percent in the year.
Earnings rose to $69.9 million, or 85 cents a share, from $61 million, or 74 cents, a year ago. Sales rose 7.5 percent to $1.2 billion from $1.1 billion, and same-store sales gained 1.5 percent.
In the year ended Jan. 31, earnings surged 44.5 percent to $203 million, or $2.47, from $140.4 million, or $1.71 a year ago. Sales climbed 8.5 percent to $3.9 billion from $3.6 billion, and same-store sales moved ahead 4.4 percent.
“This past year was outstanding for our company,” said John Goesling, executive vice president. “Sales increases, combined with better inventory management and improvement in women’s apparel are key reasons the company experienced such a tremendous year.”
He said results in the quarter reflect an improvement over a “very solid fourth quarter performance” last year. Same-store sales improved 4.1 percent in November, 0.1 percent in December and 0.2 percent in January.
Gross margins in the quarter improved to 33.1 percent from 32.2 percent a year earlier. Margins in the year improved to 33.3 percent from 31.2 percent.
The board also boosted its quarterly dividend by 25 percent to 12.5 cents, citing its strong results. The new dividend is payable March 15 to shareholders of record on March 6.
The company ended the year with 76 stores in 13 states and 10 million in total square footage. This year, Nordstrom plans to enter the New York market with a large unit in White Plains, N.Y., scheduled to open next month. Other big openings will be in Schaumburg, Ill.; Millburn, N.J., and Indianapolis.
Nordstrom’s results were issued after the stock closed Tuesday at 45 1/8, up 7/8 on over-the-counter trading. — Fairchild News Service