Petco's Earnings Rise 36% in Quarter

From Reuters

Petco Animal Supplies Inc. said Thursday that its fiscal fourth-quarter operating profit rose 36%, bolstered by a growing pet supplies market and higher sales.

Petco, the No. 2 U.S. pet supplies retailer behind Petsmart Inc. with 600 stores, said earnings in the quarter ended Feb. 1 rose to $21.3 million, or 37 cents a share, excluding items, from $15.7 million, or 27 cents, a year earlier.

Results beat analysts' consensus estimates of 36 cents a share, according to earnings tracker Thomson First Call.

Including a 4-cent charge because of a previously announced California overtime lawsuit settlement, the company earned 33 cents a share for the quarter.

In January, Petco said sales at stores open at least a year, a key measure of retail performance, rose 6% for the quarter. The company had posted 40 consecutive quarters of same-store sales increases of 5% or more, it said.

Total sales increased 11.4% to $405.4 million, from $363.7 million.

Looking forward, Petco expects profit for its first quarter of 2003 to be 18 cents to 19 cents a share, citing adverse weather conditions and continuing economic uncertainty.

First-quarter forecasts were in line with Wall Street expectations, an average of 19 cents a share, according to First Call.

For fiscal 2003, the company expects to earn $1.08 to $1.10 a share, in line with analysts' estimates of $1.09 a share. Same-store sales for 2003 are expected to increase about 6%.

Petco also said it planned to open 60 stores in 2003.

Petco shares closed up 36 cents, or 2.2%, at $16.85 on Nasdaq on Thursday. The company's stock has declined about 30% in the last two months.

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