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BJ's scales back forecast

Natick, MA — Shares of BJ's Wholesale Club were being slammed in mid-day trading today after the company reported a 14 percent drop in fourth quarter profits and lowered guidance for the current fiscal year.

BJ's shares hit a new 52-week low, plummeting nearly 20 percent — $2.66 — to $10.94 during the noon hour. The company reported fourth quarter net income of $48.5 million, $0.70 a diluted share, against $56.4 million, or $0.77 a share.

Net sales for the quarter increased 12.4 percent to $1.7 billion and comparable club sales increased 1.6 percent. For the full year, net sales increased $12.2 percent and comp club sales rose 2 percent.

For the full year, the company reported $130.9 million in net income, $1.84 per diluted share, vs. $82.3 million, or $1.11 a diluted share from the previous year.

The company also set its guidance for the current year at $1.25 to $1.35 per diluted share.

"In 2003, we are refining our positioning in the marketplace to offer higher quality merchandise at even lower member-only prices," said Mike Wedge, president and ceo. "At the same time, we are making substantial investments in our business to reinvigorate sales in out core markets where we clearly have market leadership."

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