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Williams-Sonoma Profit Rises, Boosts Dividend, Share Buyback

Home furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma said Thursday its fiscal fourth-quarter profit edged up on increased revenue.

Williams Sonoma
Chitose Suzuki
Williams Sonoma

Quarterly earnings rose to $121.1 million, or $1.06 a share, versus $120.8 million, or $1.02 a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding 2 cents a share from new accounting procedures in 2006 and 7 cents a share from 2005's fourth-quarter for a Hold Everything transition charge, adjusted earnings were $1.08 a share compared with $1.09 a share in the prior year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting net income of $1.03 a share.

Revenue gained 3% to $1.25 billion from $1.21 billion in the prior year, which matched Wall Street's expectations.

Retail revenue rose 3.8% primarily on a year-over-year increase in retailed leased square footage, according to the company. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least one year, rose more than half a percent during the quarter, with a 3.2% rise at the ompany's namesake stores and a 5.3 drop at Pottery Barn locations.

For the year, net income dropped 3% to $208.9 million, or $1.79 a share, compared with $214.9 million, or $1.81 a share, in the previous year.

Full-year sales grew 5% to $3.73 billion from $3.54 billion.

The company said it expects profit for fiscal 2007 to be in the range of $1.76 to $1.84 a share.

Analysts, on average, are looking for Williams-Sonoma to earn $1.81 a share on nearly $3.99 billion for the year, according to Thomson Financial.

For the first quarter, the company estimates a profit of 11 cents to 15 cents a share on revenue of $812 million to $830 million. Analysts' average estimates are 17 cents a share and $827 million, respectively.

In addition, the company said it will buy back up to an additional 5 million shares of its common stock and raise its dividend 15% to 11.5 cents a share.

The company will pay the dividend on May 24 to shareholders of record April 27.

The company has about 6.2 million, which includes 1.2 million under an existing buyback program and the additional 5 million shares, available for repurchase.

The repurchase program does not have an expiration date and may be limited or ended at any time without prior notice.

The company had about 109.9 million shares outstanding as of Feb. 25.

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