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Cost Plus scores

Strong sales and effective cost management led Cost Plus, Inc., to yet another quarter of record earnings results.

The specialty retailer posted net income of $900,000 in the quarter, as opposed to a net loss of $700,000 for the third quarter of 2002.

The company also set a record for earnings for the first three quarters of the year — $6.3 million, or more than twice the earnings it reported for the first nine months of 2002, which were $3.1 million.

Cost Plus boosted its third-quarter net sales by 13.4 percent, reaching $170 million.

Its same-store sales edged up 1.2 percent during the quarter.

The year-to-date numbers were even more impressive: a 15.7 percent rise in net sales, to $489 million; and a 2.5 percent hike in comp-store sales.

Murray Dashe, Cost Plus' chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the company's new records are "a testament to the increasing financial strength of our business as it grows, as well as the effectiveness of our employees in managing our variable costs."

Cost Plus continued to expand during the third quarter, opening eight new stores in California, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada and Texas. This brings the company's year-to-date store opening count to 21.

Going into the fourth quarter, Cost Plus has thus far opened 10 additional stores.

The company expects that the total new store openings for all of fiscal 2003 will be 31, a modest advance over 2002's roster of 26 new stores.

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