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Sales Sag At Hastings

21 May, 2003 By: Joan Villa

Strong video rentals and game sales weren't enough to offset weakness in books and music for Hastings Entertainment, which posted a first-quarter loss of $1.1 million versus a profit of $600,000 in the year-ago period.

Rental video surged 9.5 percent for the three months ended Apr. 30 over the prior year, boosting total revenues 3.5 percent to $116.8 million, the company reported. The company also increased its total store base to 146 locations versus 141 April 30, 2002.

DVD sales climbed 47.2 percent and video games continued as the retailer's fastest growing category, with sales soaring 98.2 percent in the quarter over the prior year.

“The focus on our new 3-Across layout for new and remodeled stores allows us to position ourselves for gamers to turn to Hastings as their complete source for games and entertainment," noted president and CEO John Marmaduke.

Merchandise comps, however, were flat, while music fell 11.8 percent and books declined 5.4 percent from the year-ago quarter. The music industry overall shipped 10 percent fewer units in the first three months of the year and book retailers also experienced a downturn in the first quarter, Hastings reported.

"We also believe that the war in Iraq and general economic conditions contributed to our lower-than-planned merchandise comps," Marmaduke said.

The Amarillo, Texas-based chain also lowered earnings guidance for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2004, to a range of 27 cents to 32 cents per diluted share from the previously expected range of 30 cents to 35 cents per diluted share.

Hastings' shares were down 40 cents to $3.63 in mid-day trading on the news.

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