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Luxe's Winning Strategy: Neiman Marcus Profits Climb 19.3% in Quarter

Neiman Marcus Group saw second-quarter profits rise 19 percent to $70.6 million, as sales gained 7.7 percent to $1.13 billion from $1.05 billion.

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NEW YORK — Whatever intrigue is going on behind the scenes at Neiman Marcus Group, its bottom line just keeps looking better and better.

The luxury retailer said Wednesday that income for the quarter ended Jan. 29 jumped 19.3 percent to $70.6 million, or $1.43 a diluted share, from $59.2 million, or $1.21, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding a $7.5 million impact of favorable settlements associated with previous state tax filings in the second quarter of 2004, adjusted earnings per diluted share were $1.06 in the quarter. Revenues for the three months gained 7.7 percent to $1.13 billion from $1.05 billion.

“Luxury is alive and well, and there’s not a better place to find it than at The Neiman Marcus Group,” boasted Burt Tansky, Neiman’s president and chief executive officer, in a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

The results come as speculation continues to swirl that something is going on with Neiman Marcus and its controlling shareholders, the Smith family. While speculation last month was that Neiman’s might be snapped up by Federated Department Stores or another investor, the current feeling is that the Smiths more likely are preparing a secondary offering or other financial maneuver involving their shareholding to capitalize on Neiman’s soaring stock price and engage in a form of estate planning.

By division, revenues at specialty retail stores — Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman — increased 9.6 percent to $912 million from $832 million. Same-store sales for the segment rose 9.6 percent, while sales for Neiman Marcus Stores gained 9 percent and Bergdorf Goodman rose 14.5 percent. In the direct-marketing group, sales inched down by 1.6 percent to $188 million from $191 million. Excluding Chef’s Catalog, which was sold last year, revenues for the quarter were $162 million. In its “other” category, which includes Kate Spade and Laura Mercier, sales rose 16 percent to $29 million from $25 million.

Shares of Neiman Marcus gained 82 cents in trading on Wednesday to close at $74.07 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares hit a new 52-week high in intraday trading at $74.90.

Addressing the major shift in the retail landscape this week with the $17 billion deal for Federated to buy May Department Stores Co., Tansky told analysts that Neiman’s was keeping tabs on the merger.
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