Sales Uptick Helps Nordstrom - TheStreet

Updated from 4:31 p.m. EST

An rise in sales over the year-ago quarter helped


(JWN) - Get Report

boost profits 18% in its fiscal fourth quarter, the department store chain reported on Thursday.

In its quarter ended Jan. 31, Nordstrom earned $60 million, or 44 cents per diluted share, on $1.75 billion in sales -- a revenue increase of more than 7%. In the same period a year ago, Nordstrom earned $50.7 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, on $1.63 billion in revenue.

Wall Street analysts were expecting Nordstrom to earn 42 cents per share on $1.76 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Financial/First Call.

Nordstrom overall sales growth of 7.3% was boosted in part by strong sales at its Nordstrom Rack outlet stores. While same-store sales increased just 0.9% at the company's core Nordstrom department stores, same-store sales at Nordstrom Rack and the company's other, non-department, stores increased 7.6%.

Same-store sales compare results at outlets open for more than one year.

For fiscal 2003, Nordstrom expects to post earnings of $1.33 to $1.39 per share on flat to a slight increase in same-store sales. In its first quarter, the Seattle-based company expects to earn 23 cents to 27 cents per share on flat same-store sales.

The company's costs mostly stayed even with the same period last year. Nordstrom's gross profit margin, the difference between what the company paid for products and what it charges for them, stayed constant at about 33.2% of sales. Meanwhile, the company decreased its sales and administrative costs as a portion of sales by 30 basis points.