Neiman Marcus reports quarterly profits of $5.3 million

The Neiman Marcus Group, Dallas, reported a fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday of $5.3 million.

Bloomberg News reports that turquoise jewelry was among the chain’s hottest items for the quarter selling at full price. Other items that led the way in sales were designer boots and women’s suits.

Fourth-quarter sales for the period, which ended Aug. 3, rose 4.8 percent, to $666.4 million, the company said.

“I am pleased with the progress we made in the fourth quarter. We maintained our tight control of inventory, eliminated certain promotional events and concentrated on our core customer,” said Burton M. Tansky, Neiman Marcus president and CEO. “This focus allowed us to achieve a 350 basis point improvement in gross margin, resulting in a significant profit improvement from last year.”

Excluding costs to write down the value of assets of three of its nine majority-owned Kate Spade stores, Neiman Marcus would have had profit of 13 cents a share, better than the 8 cents a share expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Same-store sales declined 2.5% at Neiman Marcus and 7.3% at the retailer’s Bergdorf Goodman stores. Revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct, which includes catalog and World Wide Web sales, rose 6.7%, to $96 million.

“As we enter the new year, we are enthusiastic about our new Fall merchandise; however, the retail environment remains unclear,” Tansky said. “Despite these uncertainties, we are currently anticipating comparable store sales to improve in the low to mid-single digit range for the Fall season. Based on our inventory position and our planned emphasis on full-price selling, we expect gross margins to improve for the first half of fiscal 2003 compared to last year.”