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Williams-Sonoma Q4 profit up 8%; announces resignation of COO/CFO


San Francisco -- Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 8%, boosted by strong performances from its Pottery Barn and West Elm brands. The company also announced that COO and CFO Sharon McCollam, 48, has retired.

Although the home-furnishings retailer’s results beat Wall Street estimates, it offered fiscal 2012 earnings guidance that was slightly below what analysts expect. Its revenue forecast for the year was above analysts' estimates.

Williams-Sonoma reported net income of $122.6 million for the period ended Jan. 29, up from $113.4 million a year earlier.

Quarterly revenue was up 13% to $1.27 billion, from $1.12 billion as online sales rose 18.1%. Direct-to-consumer revenue rose 13.8% in the quarter, led by Pottery Barn and West Elm.

On an earnings call with analysts, CEO and president Laura Alber detailed the company’s strategic initiatives for 2012, which include continued investment in its e-commerce capability; the multiyear development of a multichannel, multi-brand global IT platform; the expansion of West Elm including seven new stores; four, the remodel of high-profile stores; and the multi-year replacement of its conveyable direct-to-customer fulfillment operations.

Also in 2012, the company will expand its international shipping capability from 75 countries to 99, and will expand it franchise presence in the Middle East from 13 stores at the close of 2011 to 18, including the first Williams-Sonoma, PBteen and West Elm stores outside of the Americas.

For the full year, Williams-Sonoma earned $236.9 million, or $2.22 per share. That's up from $200.2 million, or $1.83 per share, in the prior year. Annual revenue increased 6% to $3.72 billion, from $3.5 billion.

Williams-Sonoma said McCollam has retired from the company and will retire from its board on March 16. It appointed Julie Whalen, senior VP, corporate controller and treasurer, as acting CFO.

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