Byline: Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — Gottschalks Inc. on Thursday reported improved sales and earnings for the fourth quarter and year, but said that its first-quarter loss would widen from last year’s level.
For the quarter ended Feb. 3, Gottschalks posted net income of $10.4 million, or 82 cents a share, 39.1 percent above the $7.5 million, or 59 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding nonrecurring charges in 1999, income in the year-ago quarter would have been $8.6 million, or 68 cents. Revenue was up 38 percent to $263.4 million from $190.9 million.
For the year, income was up 6.7 percent to $7.1 million, or 56 cents a share, from $6.6 million, or 53 cents, in the year-ago period. Excluding nonrecurring charges from 2000 associated with the reopening of 34 former Lamonts Apparel stores acquired in July and nonrecurring charges in 1999, net income for the year would have increased by 35.1 percent to $10.6 million from $7.8 million a year ago. Revenue was up 22.2 percent to $677 million from $554.2 million.
Jim Famalette, president and chief executive officer of the Fresno, Calif.-based department store operator, said that the company will focus its efforts on improving merchandise assortments and inventory turnover. The retailer is evaluating two sites which may open in the second half, as well as what to do with several underperforming locations.
The company is projecting a loss of between 17 cents to 22 cents a share for the first quarter, compared with a loss of 7 cents in the year-ago quarter, attributable in part to the seasonal losses in the former Lamonts stores. Earnings per share for the year are expected to be in the range of 90 cents to $1 while comparable-store sales are budgeted to increase 3 percent as total revenues grow 17 percent.
Gottschalks owns 79 department stores and 17 specialty apparel stores in seven western states.