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Cost Plus Posts Narrower 1Q Loss As Sales Improve

05/16/2012 | 06:14pm US/Eastern

Cost Plus Inc. (>> Cost Plus, Inc.) posted a slight loss in its fiscal first quarter, though core results topped expectations as the retailer's customers continued to spend more per visit.

Cost Plus operates stores that sell a mix of home furnishings, accessories and gourmet food and wine at discount prices. Its fortunes have improved since its near-extinction during the depths of the financial crisis, when its shares were trading for less than $1 during parts of 2009.

Improving results prompted Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY) to make a cash tender for Cost Plus valued at about $550 million.

Cost Plus has posted improving same-store sales in more recent quarters, and earnings surged during the latest holiday season.

For the less-busy quarter ended April 28, Cost Plus reported a loss of about $74,000--essentially breakeven on a per-share basis, compared with a year-earlier loss of $3.4 million, or 15 cents a share. Earnings from continuing operations reached a penny a share, up from a loss of 14 cents a share a year ago.

Net sales grew 7.4% to $214.6 million as same-store sales increased 7.9%.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters projected a loss of 4 cents a share on revenue of $213 million.

Gross margin widened to 32% from 31.7%.

Customer count at comparable stores rose 2.7%, while the average ticket per customer climbed 5%.

Shares closed down a penny at $21.91 Wednesday and were inactive after hours. Best Buy's offer is for $22 a share.

-By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909; Andrew.FitzGerald@dowjones.com

Stocks mentioned in the article : Cost Plus, Inc.
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