West Marine bests 2003 earnings guidance

WATSONVILLE, Calif. – Marine retailer West Marine, Inc.’s net income for the year ended Jan. 3, 2004 is $20.1 million, or $0.99 per share, an increase of 6.3 percent compared to net income of $18.9 million, or $0.97 per share, one year ago, the company reported in a statement today.

Excluding $2.8 million in pre-tax costs related to the acquisition of certain BoatU.S. operations, or $0.08 per share after-tax, net income for 2003 would have been $21.8 million, or $1.07 per share.

Those numbers exceeded previously issued guidance ranging from $1.03 to $1.05 per share, according to the company.

Acquisition-related costs include $0.9 million for incremental costs incurred to integrate the newly acquired operations of BoatU.S. and $1.9 million for early debt extinguishment costs incurred to finance the acquisition.

Net sales for the fifty-three weeks ended Jan. 3, 2004 were $660.9 million, up 24.6 percent from $530.6 million for the fifty-two weeks ended Dec. 28, 2002.

Comparable store net sales for 2003, which exclude the 62 BoatU.S. stores acquired in January 2003, decreased 2.5 percent compared to the similar period a year ago.

West Marine’s BoatU.S. stores will be included in the comparable store sales base beginning in March 2004. Comparable store sales are defined as sales from stores that have been open at least thirteen months and where selling square footage did not change by more than 40 percent in the previous thirteen months.

“We are pleased with our fourth quarter results, which compare favorably with our previously issued guidance of a loss of ($0.09) to ($0.11) per share, primarily due to good gross margins,” John Edmondson, West Marine’s CEO, said. “February sales have started off strongly, continuing the trend established by our previously reported January results.”

West Marine saw fourth quarter net loss

The company’s net loss for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 3, 2004 was ($1.6 million), or ($0.08) per share, compared to a net loss of ($1.4 million), or ($0.07) per share, a year ago, West Marine stated. Net sales for the fourteen weeks ended Jan. 3, 2004 were $124.9 million, up 34.8 percent from $92.7 million for the thirteen weeks ended Dec. 28, 2002. Comparable store net sales for the fourth quarter increased 2.9 percent compared to the similar period a year ago.

Results for both the fourth quarter and the year 2003 include an income tax benefit of approximately $0.3 million, or $0.01 per share, related to the recognition of state tax credits, the company reported.

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