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Sears Canada posts flat holiday profit, lower same-store sales

Sears Canada's head office building in Toronto is seen in this file photo.

Tim Fraser/tim fraser The Globe and Mail

Sears Canada Inc. said profits remained steady in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier as one-time items offset a decline in sales during the holiday shopping season.

The Toronto-based retailer reported Wednesday it had $39.9-million of net earnings or 39 cents per share in the 14-week period ended Feb. 2.

The results were practically unchanged from a year earlier when the company had $41-million of net income during a shorter, 13-week period ended January 28, 2012.

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However, revenue and same-store sales declined in the important holiday shopping period. The national retailer's revenue fell to just under $1.3-billion – down about $60-million from a year earlier.

Same-store sales fell 3.8 per cent from a year earlier.

President and chief executive Calvin McDonald said the company, which is in the midst of attempting a major turnaround, continues to push ahead with its three-year transformation plan.

"Although sales were lower than (the same time) last year, our same-store sales performance in the fourth quarter improved over the three prior quarters," he said in a release.

"Home electronics and Craftsman, which includes snowblowers and hardware, contributed to the majority of our sales decline."

The retailer's profit in the latest quarter received support from two special items – a $21.1-million gain related to a voluntary buyout program and an $8.6-million gain related to the sale of its share of a joint venture.

Adjusted earnings, excluding those and several other items, fell to $62.4-million from $101.8-million.

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Sears Canada shares were down 3.87 per cent, or 36 cents, at $8.94 Wednesday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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