- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., April 17 (UPI) — Sears, Roebuck and Co. on Thursday reported net income of $192 million, or 60 cents per share, for the first quarter.

The retailer's performance for the first quarter compares with net income of $110 million, or 34 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company has cautious expectations for the second quarter.

Alan J. Lacy, Sears' chairman and chief executive officer, said first-quarter earnings were in line with expectations, given the current slow economic conditions.

"Sears' performance was in line with our guidance despite a challenging quarter for the consumer and retail sector as a whole," he said. "While we are feeling the effects of major merchandise category exits and edits as well as the weak economic conditions, we continue to improve the fundamentals of our retail and credit operations."

He added that the company made substantial progress in merchandise repositioning efforts with the launch of the Whole Home brand in home fashions and the continued rollout of Lands' End.

"While our repositioning efforts are still under way, we have set the groundwork for restoring top-line growth in the second half of this year," he said.

First-quarter revenues were $6.6 billion, down 1.8 percent from a year earlier.

Sears' outlook, given the economic environment and cautious consumer sentiment, is guarded, with the expectation that retail sector growth will be modest.

The company anticipates second-quarter earnings per share will be between 85 cents and $1.

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