SAN FRANCISCO – Home products retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc. Monday raised its earnings outlook for the latest fiscal year due to a strong merchandise assortment and cost controls, and forecast current-year profits at the high end of Wall Street's expectations.
The company, which runs the Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and Hold Everything chains, said it now sees earnings of $1.31 to $1.32 a share for the year ended in January, up from its previously forecast of $1.25 to $1.28.
Analysts polled by research firm Thomson Financial/First Call had estimated profits at $1.25 to $1.28 a share, with a mean of $1.27. The company earned 99 cents a share in the prior year.
Williams-Sonoma and other retailers like Pier 1 Imports Inc. and Bed Bath & Beyond, which also sell decorative items for the home, have benefited from people spending more time at home since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Williams-Sonoma stock, which has soared 77 percent since the attacks, closed at $44.09 in Friday New York Stock Exchange trade.
"We believe that our strong merchandise assortment in the second half of the year and our commitment to customer satisfaction drove the better-than-expected performance," Chairman Howard Lester said in a statement. Inventory management, supply chain execution and cost controls also drove better than expected gross margins, earnings and cash flow, he said.
Williams-Sonoma said it will close 16 stores this year and open 66 new ones, including 23 Williams-Sonoma and 25 Pottery Barn Kids locations.
The company said it expects earnings of $1.52 to $1.56 a share for the current fiscal year. Analysts' forecasts range from $1.46 to $1.57, for a mean of $1.51, First Call said.
Williams-Sonoma sees net revenues of $2.33 billion to $2.37 billion, up from about $2.1 billion it estimates for last year. It sees 2002 same-store sales growth in the low- to mid-single digits.
The company expects capital spending to range from $140 million to $150 million this year and sees inventory levels increasing "slightly less" than the year-over year sales growth rate.
The retailer said it is targeting earnings of 3 cents to 4 cents a share for the first quarter, 4 cents to 5 cents for the second quarter, 13 cents to 14 cents for the third quarter and $1.32 to $1.33 for the fourth quarter.