Sharper Image Corp. said Tuesday that sales surged in March and that it forecast a much smaller loss for its fiscal first quarter, lifting its stock to the highest level in a year and a half.
The San Francisco-based retailer, known for high-end gadgets such as the Turbo Groomer hair trimmer, said sales at stores open at least one year rose 18% in March on demand for its branded and private-label products.
The retailer forecast a narrower-than-expected loss in the first quarter of 4 cents to 8 cents a share, compared with Wall Street’s consensus estimate of 17 cents and a year-earlier loss of 23 cents. It cited strong sales in February and March and improving profit margins.
The company’s stock soared as high as $21.07, or 17%, in Nasdaq trading before closing up $2.35, or 13%, at $20.30–its highest level since September 2000.
Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Thalheimer said business started picking up late in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31, after taking a hit during the holiday season because of the bursting of the “Razor Scooter bubble,” which had propped up 2001 sales.
“Our merchandising and product development currently has strong momentum, which makes us optimistic about our prospects for the year,” Thalheimer said.
Sharper Image, which opened three new stores this month, said it was on track to achieve its goal of increasing new store unit growth to 10% to 15% this year. It operates some 100 stores nationwide.
The company said total March sales, including those from catalogs and the Internet, rose 30% to $30 million from $23 million a year earlier. Total store sales rose 31% to $17.5 million.
Catalog sales jumped 35% to $8.5 million. Internet sales, excluding auction sales, climbed 37%. Including auction sales, Internet sales increased 18% to $4 million, the company said.
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