Two of the nation's biggest retailers reported increased fourth-quarter sales, shrugging off a sluggish Christmas season and stiff competition in the industry, while profits were mixed.
Discounter Wal-Mart Stores Inc., America's largest merchant, said earnings rose 19% on a 20% jump in sales. Federated Department Stores Inc., parent of Bloomingdale's and Abraham & Straus, said sales surged after its merger with R.H. Macy & Co., but profit declined nearly 27% due to charges from the Macy deal and the acquisition of the Joseph Horne department stores.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said it earned a record $1.03 billion, or 45 cents per share, in the three months ended Jan. 31. That compares to earnings of $868 million, or 38 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Sales rose to $24.45 billion from $20.36 billion.
David Glass, Wal-Mart's president and chief executive, said the growth came "in a competitive retail environment despite significant start-up expenses and investments in acquisitions and international markets."
Wal-Mart continued to expand aggressively in 1994, opening more than 100 discount stores and 75 supercenters. It also enhanced its presence in Mexico and started operations in Hong Kong.
For the year ended Jan. 31, the company earned $2.68 billion, or $1.17 per share, compared to earnings of $2.33 billion, or $1.02 per share, for the previous year. Sales rose to $82.49 billion from $67.344 billion.
Wal-Mart stock rose 50 cents Tuesday to $23.875 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Federated earned $107.3 million, or 71 cents per share, for the three months ended Jan. 28, compared to $146 million, or $1.16 per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Federated said it took one-time charges of about $58.9 million for the costs of the Joseph Horne and Macy deals.
Sales rose to $3.14 billion in the latest period, from $2.35 billion. The jump was mainly due to the December merger with New York-based Macy.
For the year, Cincinnati-based Federated earned $187.6 million, or $1.41 a share, compared to $193.2 million, or $1.56 a share, for 1993. Sales rose to $8.32 billion from $7.23 billion.
The company's stock rose 50 cents Tuesday to $22 on the NYSE.