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West Marine reports year-end, 4Q results

West Marine today reported an improved financial picture with unaudited results showing net income up significantly for fiscal 2009 and the company finishing the year free of debt.

Net income was $12.4 million, an improvement of $51.2 million over the net loss of $38.8 million for fiscal 2008. Diluted earnings per share were 55 cents compared to a loss per share of $1.76 last year.

The company ended the year with no debt, compared to long-term debt of $47 million at the end of fiscal year 2008. The fourth quarter of 2009 was West Marine's second consecutive quarter of being debt-free at the end of the period, and second half of 2009 was the first debt-free period for West Marine in more than 20 years.

Net revenues for the 52-week fiscal year ending Jan. 2, 2010, were $588.4 million. Adjusted to remove the impact of an extra week in the 2008 fiscal year, 2009 fiscal year adjusted net revenues decreased by $36.8 million, or 5.9 percent, and adjusted comparable store sales decreased by 2.7 percent, versus fiscal year 2008.

Without this adjustment, net revenues decreased by $42.8 million, or 6.8 percent, compared to the 53-week 2008 fiscal year, and comparable store sales decreased by 3.6 percent.

"We are certainly pleased with our progress during 2009 and are delighted to report such a significant improvement in earnings and cash flow. Especially considering how difficult a year it was for the boating industry, I think it's quite noteworthy that West Marine was profitable for the year," CEO Geoff Eisenberg said in a statement.

"The changes we made during 2008 and early 2009 helped position us to take advantage of changes in the competitive landscape, which included the liquidation of one of our primary national competitors, Boater's World," he added. "We also benefited from an increase in boat usage in some markets, continued strength in do-it-yourself type projects, plus positive customer response toward our expanded product assortments and new store formats."

Net revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $103.9 million, a decrease of $7.1 million, or 6.4 percent, from net revenues of $111.1 million for the same period last year.

Comparable store sales for the fourth quarter decreased 4.8 percent. Adjusted to remove the impact of an extra week in the fourth quarter of 2008, the 2009 fourth quarter adjusted net revenues increased by $1.5 million, or 1.4 percent, and adjusted comparable store sales increased by 3.2 percent, versus the same period last year.

Net loss for the fourth quarter was $12.8 million, or 57 cents per share. This compares to a net loss of $29 million, or $1.31 per share, for the fourth quarter last year.

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