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Williams-Sonoma Q4 income up 9%, topping expectations


San Francisco -- Williams-Sonoma Inc.'s fourth-quarter net income rose a better-than-expected 9%, helped by strong online sales, gains at its West Elm brand and the benefit of an extra week in the period.

The company also said it is increasing its quarterly cash dividend by 41% to 31 cents per share, and announced plans to buy back up to $750 million of its shares over the next three years.

Williams-Sonoma earned $133.7 million for the quarter ended Feb. 3, compared to net income of $122.6 million a year ago. Total revenue jumped to $1.41 billion from $1.27 billion. Sales in its direct-to-consumer business, which includes catalog and e-commerce, surged 19.3%.

“Today’s announcements reflect the power of our multichannel, multi-brand operating model and confirm our confidence in the growth potential and cash-generating ability of our brands as we look forward to 2013 and beyond. We finished 2012 above our expectations, and our strategies for 2013 are strong. We are pleased that we are able to significantly escalate our commitment to return excess cash to stockholders through a balanced program of share repurchases and dividend increases,” said Laura Alber, president and CEO.

For the first quarter of 2013, the company expects net revenues to be in the range of $850 million to $870 million. Comparable brand revenue growth in the first quarter is expected to be in the range of 4% to 6%.

Williams-Sonoma also said the Williams-Sonoma brand president, Richard Harvey, is leaving the company after 30 years. Janet Hayes, president of Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen, replaced Harvey, effective March 20.

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