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Originally published February 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Page modified February 22, 2013 at 6:12 AM

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Nordstrom boasts about 20% quarterly profit

Cosmetics and apparel sales help boost profit 20 percent in the holiday quarter at the Seattle retailer,

Seattle Times business reporter

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Nordstrom executives expect the company’s direct-to-consumer sales, Nordstrom Rack and upcoming stores in Canada to represent half of total sales within five years, Chief Financial Officer Michael Koppel told analysts Thursday.

The fashion retailer also recently saw an uptick in sales of women’s apparel and at its California stores, CEO Blake Nordstrom added. He participated in the call from a Los Angeles-area store.

“There are still some opportunities, but the most important thing is the trend’s improving, so we’re encouraged,” Nordstrom said.

The executives were touting the company’s fourth-quarter profit boost of 20 percent to $284 million, or $1.40 a share, which was announced Thursday. Its earnings beat Wall Street’s estimates of $1.34 a share.

Total revenues grew 13 percent to $3.7 billion.

However, net sales (which do not include credit-card revenues) were $3.6 billion, short of the $3.7 billion analysts had predicted.

Investors clocked the stock. After losing 63 cents in regular trading to close at $54.52, Nordstrom reported fourth-quarter figures and watched shares fall an additional $1.26 to $53.26 in extended trading.

Some investors also disliked Nordstrom’s outlook for the coming year, which included a 4.5 to 6.5 percent increase in total sales and earnings of $3.65 to $3.80 a share.

The Seattle-based company’s same-store sales, a gauge of performance at stores open at least a year, rose 6.3 percent during the fourth-quarter. It said top-performing categories included cosmetics and women’s, men’s and children’s apparel.

The South and Midwest regions were top-performing geographic areas compared with the same quarter a year earlier.

Nordstrom Rack increased net sales by 23 percent. Its same-store sales were up 7.1 percent, the largest fourth-quarter increase in six years.

During the quarter, Nordstrom repurchased 4.2 million shares for $219 million.

For the year ended Feb. 2, the retailer posted profit of $735 million, up 8 percent from fiscal 2011. That came to $3.56 a share.

Net sales for the year were $11.8 billion, and total revenues (which include credit card revenues) were $12.1 billion, both up 12 percent.

Earnings growth boosted Nordstrom’s return on invested capital for the fiscal year to 13.9 percent from 13.3 percent in the previous year.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or Twitter @AllisonSeattle.

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