Earnings Reports for Aug. 17

Seagram plans to create Vivendi Universal in a merger with media giants Vivendi and its cable TV unit Canal Plus. Last week, the European Commission asked for more information on the proposed $34 billion deal between before completing its regulatory scrutiny. Vivendi and Canal Plus say they are confident the EU will rule in favour of the tie-up with Seagram before the end of September.

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Limited’s Sales Up 20 Percent

The Limited reported today its second quarter earnings were up 20 percent partly because of strong sales in the Victoria’s Secret and Express clothing brands.

Profits for the quarter that ended July 29 were $77.6 million, or 17 cents per share, compared with $64.6 million, or 14 cents per share, in the second quarter of 1999.

Through the first half of the company’s fiscal year, the company earned $140.5 million, or 31 cents per share, an increase of 29 percent versus the $109.2 million, or 23 cents per share, in the first half of its last fiscal year.

The company matched industry projections for the quarter, said Jennifer Black, executive vice president and senior analyst for First Security Van Kasper.

Results were adjusted to exclude a one-time charge of $13.1 million, or 2 cents per share, for the August 1999 spinoff of TOO, which operated as the Limited Too girls’ clothing chain.

The company posted a 4 percent overall sales increase and a 6 percent increase in comparable store sales during the quarter. Net sales were $2.26 billion for the second quarter and nearly $4.4 billion through the first half of the fiscal year.

The Limited operates 2,833 stores under the names Express, Lerner New York, Lane Bryant, Limited Stores, Structure and Henri Bendel. It also owns 84 percent of Intimate Brands, which includes Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works and White Barn Candle Co. brands.

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Barnes & Noble Loses $8.6 Million

Bookstore retailer Barnes & Noble posted a second-quarter loss, in part due to greater-than-expected weakness in its video game and entertainment divisions. The company also suffered a loss in its investment activities.

For the three months ended July 30, the New York-based company lost $8.6 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with earnings of $23 million, or 33 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $924.3 million, up from $727.2 million, the company said today.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial were expecting a loss of 4 cents per share.

Shares of Barnes & Noble fell 75 cents to $17.25 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest bookseller, said sales at superstores open more than a year increased 6.6 percent from last year’s second quarter, helped by strong sales in the children’s category and what the company called “unprecedented success” of the latest Harry Potter book.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has sold more than 500,000 copies through Barnes & Noble stores, the company said.

While video game and entertainment sales through its Babbage’s Etc. and Funco software and electronics games stores were higher than expected at $127 million, gross margin dropped, in part due to lower than anticipated sales of accessories.

The company’s investment activities, which includes formation of Barnes & Noble.com, resulted in a pro forma loss of 18 cents per share.

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