Revenue, Earnings Rise for Neiman Marcus

The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, reported improvements yesterday for its 2004 fiscal third quarter as well as the recently concluded 39-week period.

For the 13 weeks ended May 1, it posted revenue of $878 million compared with $723 million in the prior year. Also, net earnings totaled $69 million, up from $41 million in the third quarter of its fiscal 2003.

In the 39 weeks ended May 1, revenue rose to $2.76 billion from $2.4 billion in the prior year. Net earnings skyrocketed to $184 million from $102 million for the 39 weeks ended May 3, 2003.

Fiscal third quarter revenue for the Specialty Retail Stores segment, consisting of Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, was $722 million, up from $591 million the previous year.

Neiman Marcus Direct, the direct marketing division, reported third-quarter fiscal 2004 revenue of $126 million compared with $113 million in the previous year. Operating earnings for Neiman Marcus Direct reached $10 million in the third quarter, a total the company described as relatively flat with results from a year ago.

The company nearly reached a double-digit revenue increase for the four weeks ended May 29. Revenue was $246 million, an 8.6 percent improvement versus the $227 million for the comparable period ended May 31, 2003.

Comparable revenue in the Specialty Retail Stores segment increased only 7 percent. However, comparable revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct jumped 15 percent. Top-selling merchandise categories in the DM segment included cosmetics, casual sportswear, tabletop, linens and jewelry. The DM segment conducts print catalog and online operations under the Neiman Marcus, Horchow and Chef's Catalog brand names.

Citing limited sales growth, the company said last week that it may sell its Chef's Catalog brand. Alternatives to a sale include a merger, joint venture or other business combination. With $75 million in annual sales, Chef's Catalog markets kitchenware via its catalog, site, warehouse sales and two retail stores, located in Chicago and Highland Park, IL. Neiman Marcus acquired the 25-year-old brand in 1998 and has retained Elixir Advisors, New York, as its financial adviser.

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