BJ’s sees high single digit total sales increase

Natick, Mass. – BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. posted a 9.4% increase in fourth quarter sales to $2.74 billion with a comp increase of 4.6%, the regional warehouse club reported this morning.

While comp gains in general merchandise were modest at 1%, domestics was singled out as among the categories contributing to that increase. Other general merchandise categories showing strength included computers, GPS, housewares, small appliances and televisions.

“Sales of non-edible consumer packaged goods were remarkable throughout the year,” said Laura Sen, president and ceo.

Net income for quarter ended Jan. 30, was $55.1 million, or $1.01 per share, up 5.7% from $52.7 million, or 91 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.

For the year, total sales rose 1.6% to $9.95 billion and comps fell 1.9%, including a negative impact from sales of gasoline of 5.9%. Excluding the impact of gasoline sales, merchandise comparable club sales increased by 4.0% for the full year.

BJ’s, which operates 187 clubs in 15 states, offered its earnings guidance for the first quarter and the new fiscal year. For the first quarter, on a GAAP basis, the company expects to report net income in the range of $21.3million to $ 23.7 million and earnings per share in the range of 40 to 45 cents.

For the full fiscal year, BJ’s estimates net income in the range of $133.1 million to $138.1 million on a GAAP basis, and earnings per share in the range of $2.54 to $2.64.

BJ’s opened seven new clubs in 2009, up from four in 2008. The company has seven to nine new sites planned for this year, including the relocation of its Johnston, Rhode Island, club. Three of these new sites will measure 85,000 square feet and the remainder will be about 120,000 square feet, Sen said.

During the first half o the year, BJ’s plans to open two of the 85,000-square-foot sites in Massachusetts – one in Quincy and the other in Waltham.

BJ’s is also ramping up its remodel program, growing it from two sites last year to five or six sites this year with minor renovation projects at several other sites, Sen said.

She added, “We expect food and consumables to be the primary drivers of sales in 2010.”




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