West Marine posts 4Q results

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West Marine Inc. today reported a 6.1 percent drop in net sales for its 2008 fourth quarter, and a 7.1 percent sales decline for the full year.

Net sales for the quarter ending Jan. 3 totaled $111.1 million, compared to $118.3 million in the year-ago quarter. This was primarily because of a $4.9 million decline in same-store sales. Same-store sales fell 5.1 percent in the 2008 quarter, compared to a drop of 9.9 percent in the 2007 quarter.

Net sales for the 53 weeks ending Jan. 3 declined to $631.3 million, compared to net sales of $679.6 million for the 52-week period in 2007. This was due to a $38.2 million decrease in same-store sales and a $7.1 million sales decrease attributable to stores that were closed in 2007.

Same-store sales for the 53 weeks ending Jan. 3 fell 6.8 percent. In the corresponding 53-week period a year earlier, same-store sales decreased 7.6 percent.

“Sales levels in the fourth quarter were in line with our expectations,” CEO Geoff Eisenberg said in a statement. “While the challenging economic conditions, which have affected boat usage and thus our customer traffic and sales, were very difficult, we are pleased with our overall sales performance in Q4 and for 2008 in total.”

West Marine said its preliminary estimate of 2008 full year results is an after-tax loss range of 44-50 cents per share. This is an improvement compared to previously communicated guidance of an after-tax loss of 55-65 cents per share.

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