Neiman Marcus profits fall

Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group Inc. reported on Thursday a 40% decline in quarterly earnings as the U.S. recession hurt sales of high-end clothing and accessories.

Looking to the spring season, Neiman Marcus forecast revenues to fall 2% to 4%, but said markdowns should not be as deep.

Neiman Marcus, which also operates the Bergdorf Goodman store in New York, reported net earnings of $24 million or 51 cents a diluted share for the second quarter ended Jan. 26, down from $39.9 million or 84 cents a year earlier.

Neiman Marcus said revenues fell to $908 million from $924 million a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year, a key measure of retail performance, fell 3%. The retailer saw sales hit hard in the U.S. recession as consumers cut back on nonessential purchases.

In a separate news release, Neiman said same-store sales in February fell 1%. Total revenues in that month were flat at $199 million.

Neiman said its cash balances in the second quarter improved from a year ago while borrowings under the company’s primary bank facility were eliminated.

Second quarter operating earnings for the retailer’s stores fell to $39 million from $66 million a year ago due to lower sales and higher inventory markdowns. Operating earnings for Neiman Marcus’ catalog unit increased to $9 million from $8 million a year ago.