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BBB boasts double-digit net earnings and sales, high single-digit comp gains in 3Q

Union, N.J. - With double-digit gains in both net earnings and net sales plus a high single-digit comp increase, Bed Bath & Beyond's third quarter proved "pleasing" - and yet not quite as good as it might have been in better economic times.

Leonard Feinstein, co-chairman, noted during the home textiles specialty chain's conference call that "while the economic environment appears to have stabilized and is perhaps improving, it looks as if the consumer continues to face challenges resulting from the macro-economic environment, such as historically high unemployment rates. However, we are cautiously optimistic about the remainder of fiscal 2010."

For the quarter, ended Nov. 27, BBB reported a 28% increase in net earnings to $188.6 million, or 74 cents per diluted share, versus the year ago period's $151.3 million, or 58 cents per diluted share.

Net sales were up 11.1% to $2.194 billion, compared to $1.975 billion in the 2009 third quarter. Comparable store sales increased by about 7.0%, slightly down from last year's 7.3% gain.

As of quarter-end, the retailer operates 1,127 stores, including: 976 Bed Bath & Beyonds in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada; 66 Christmas Tree Shops stores; 40 buybuy BABY units; and 45 stores under the names of Harmon or Harmon Face Values. In addition, the company is a partner in a joint venture which operates two stores in the Mexico City market under the name "Home & More."

Year-to-date results included: a 35% net earnings jump to $507.9 million, or $1.95 per diluted share, versus $374.0 million, or $1.44 per diluted share; net sales that grew 12.0% to $6.254 billion compared to $5.585 billion last year; and a 7.6% increase in comps.

BBB updated its fourth quarter and fiscal 2010 guidance, now modeling net earnings per diluted share to be approximately $.91 to $.95 for the quarter and approximately $2.86 to $2.90 for the year.

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