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WestPoint Looks for Improvement in 2nd Half

NEW YORK - Although West-Point Home took a big hit in sales during the fourth quarter, the fiscal year decline was not as severe, and executives of parent company Icahn Enterprises said a shift away from commodity products combined with lower cotton prices should begin to positively impact results in the second half of 2012.
     During the company's quarterly call with analysts, Icahn Enterprises president and principal executive officer said if West-Point can operate its bedding plant in Bahrain and its towel facility in Pakistan at full capacity with "reasonably profitable programs, this unit should be fine."
     Ichan executives pointed to the new management team put in place last summer - industry vet Norman Savaria, president and ceo, along with retail veteran Taran Chernin, executive vp and chief merchandising officer. They are focused on rebuilding customer relationships, exiting non-core product lines and cutting costs.
     For the year ended Dec. 31, WestPoint's sales fell 25% to $322 million as gross margin declined 41%, Icahn Enterprises reported.
     During the fourth quarter, sales dropped 49% to $63 million with gross margin plummeting 120%.

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