Sonoma stock soars despite 4Q profit slide

NEW YORK -Williams-Sonoma Inc. said last week its fourth-quarter profits slid 9 percent, due largely to a soft holiday season and price markdowns, but the home goods retailer's shares rallied as it held firm to current guidance for coming quarters.

The San Francisco-based chain's shares were up $1.18, or more than 4 percent, at $27.50 in mid-afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading on Wednesday, March 14. Earlier, they had spiked as high as $28.64, even as the broader market was down sharply.

Williams-Sonoma said fourth-quarter earnings fell 9 percent as it worked through a tough holiday season and resorted to deep markdowns to clear its shelves in time for spring.

"As expected, fourth quarter was a difficult holiday season for retailers," said Howard Lester, chairman and chief executive. "Despite challenging economic times, we feel strongly that we responded well by aggressively managing expenses and reducing inventories."

Williams-Sonoma Inc., which operates Williams Sonoma, Grand Cuisine, Pottery Barn and Hold Everything stores and catalogs, unveiled net income for the quarter, ended Jan. 28, of $44.5 million, or 79 cents a share, down from $48.7 million, or 82 cents a share, a year earlier.

However, the results came in at the high-end of Wall Street expectations, which had ranged from 70 cents to 79 cents per share, producing an average range of 78 cents.

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