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Larry Thomas

Williams-Sonoma earnings jump 28% in first quarter

SAN FRANCISCO - Paced by its Pottery Barn and West Elm formats, retailer Williams-Sonoma said first-quarter Williams-Sonoma, Greensboro, N.C.profits surged more than 28%.

Revenues for the quarter ended May 5 grew 8.6% in what the company said was the best first quarter in its history.

Laura Alber, president and CEO, said the retailer exceeded its expectations in operating margin and earnings per share "while simultaneously investing in our future growth strategies."

Revenues totaled $887.8 million, up from $817.6 million in last year's first fiscal quarter. The company said revenues from e-commerce and catalog sales made up 47.2% of the total, and were 11.7% ahead of the same quarter last year.

Revenues from traditional retail stores increased 5.8%, despite a drop in revenues from its flagship Williams-Sonoma stores.

Comparable-brand revenue, which includes all segments of its business, rose 7.2% companywide. The PBteen brand had the largest increase at 16.1%, followed by West Elm at 11.8%, Pottery Barn at 7.6%, Pottery Barn Kids at 6.9% and Williams-Sonoma at 1.9%.

Net income totaled $39.5 million or 40 cents per share. That was up from $30.7 million or 30 cents per share in last year's first fiscal quarter.

As a result of the strong first quarter, Alber said the company is increasing its revenue and earnings estimates for the fiscal year.

Revenues are now projected at $4.22 billion to $4.3 billion, up from a March forecast of $4.2 billion to $4.28 billion.

Earnings per share are now projected to be $2.67 to $2.77. That's up from the March projection of $2.65 to $2.75.

As of May 5, the company had 587 traditional retail stores, including 254 Williams-Sonoma, 196 Pottery Barn, 85 Pottery Barn Kids, and 49 West Elm.

The company said it expects to end the year with 584 stores.

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