Pathmark Reports 4Q Net Loss, but Stock Jumps on Hopes of Turnaround

CARTERET, N.J. -- Regional retailer Pathmark Stores, Inc., based here, reported yesterday a net loss of $262.3 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004, compared to net earnings of $9.6 million in the prior year's fourth quarter. However, the company's stock price jumped more than 13 percent as investors put their faith in a $150 million investment infusion from Yupaica Cos., Inc., which Pathmark previously announced.

Pathmark also said yesterday it intended to extend the filing date of its annual report on Form 10K, citing demands on its internal staff due to "complex accounting issues," and efforts surrounding management's assessment of the company's internal control over financial reporting. Pathmark said it anticipates filing the report on or before April 29.

Pathmark's sales for the fourth quarter were $996.8 million, a decrease of 1.6 percent from the prior year's fourth quarter. Same-store sales decreased 2.6 percent.

The company reported a net loss of $262.3 million, or $8.73 per diluted share, compared with net earnings of $9.6 million, or 32 cents per diluted share, in the prior year's fourth quarter.

Excluding a $270.4 million charge for intangible assets and other unusual items, adjusted earnings were $2.5 million, or eight cents per share, in the latest quarter.

Pathmark said in a statement that the multimillion-dollar charge was attributable to the company's "declining operating performance in fiscal 2004 and reduced valuation multiples in the retail grocery industry."

"While fiscal 2004 sales and earnings were in line with the guidance we provided last October, we are disappointed with our results for the year, which we believe do not reflect Pathmark's strong market position and prime store locations," c.e.o. Eileen Scott said in a statement.

For the year, Pathmark swung to a loss of $269.3 million, or $8.96 per share, from a profit of $16.5 million, or 54 cents per share, last year. Excluding items, Pathmark said it would have posted a loss of $4.4 million, or 15 cents per share, in the latest period.

Revenue was $3.98 billion for the year, compared with $3.99 billion a year ago.

The company's capital investment plan for fiscal 2005, including capital leases, is expected to be approximately $67 million. This plan includes two new stores and the completion of eight store renovations. Both new stores are expected to open in the second half of fiscal 2005.

As previously reported, Pathmark signed a securities purchase agreement with the Yucaipa Cos., LLC, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, under which Yucaipa will invest $150 million in Pathmark. Pathmark and Yucaipa also executed a five-year management agreement in which Yucaipa will provide consulting services following the closing on corporate strategy, marketing, operations, finance, and retail development.
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