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Kmart’s gains offset by Sears declines in Q4

BY Alaric DeArment

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Mass merchandiser Kmart had sales of $4.99 billion during fourth quarter 2010 and $15.6 billion for the year as a whole, according to an earnings statement released Thursday by parent company Sears Holdings.

The sales for the quarter, which ended Jan. 29, were a slight improvement over fourth quarter 2009 sales of $4.92 billion, while the annual sales represented a decline in dollar terms from 2009’s $15.74 billion. Comparable-store sales for the year increased in percentage terms, by 0.7%, while quarterly sales increased by 2.5%.

The chain said the increase in comparable-store sales resulted from increases in clothing and footwear, jewelry, toys and sporting goods, partially offset by declines in pharmacy, food and consumables.

Still, Kmart’s gains were offset by declines at Sears stores, which took overall sales down to $13.1 billion for the quarter and $43.3 billion for the year, compared with $13.3 billion in fourth quarter 2009 and $44 billion in fiscal year 2009.

The company’s profits for the quarter were down nearly 15% to $374 million, compared with the year-ago period. Profits for the year also fell, totaling $133 million, compared with $235 million in 2009. Quarterly profits were larger than annual profits due to being offset by losses in previous quarters.

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HSAs saw dramatic growth in 2010, study finds

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS — Health savings accounts surpassed $10 billion at year-end 2010, according to a survey and the resulting research report conducted by Devenir, an investment firm that specializes in providing investment options for HSAs.

The survey data was collected in January 2011 and primarily consisted of top 30 custodians in the health savings account market. All data was requested for the calendar 2010 year ended Dec. 31. “The survey was conducted in order to help shed light on the rapidly growing and evolving health savings account market,” stated Eric Remjeske Devenir president.

Key findings from the Devenir 2010 survey and research report included:

  • HSAs continue to see dramatic growth as the total number of HSA accounts rose to 6.2 million with assets totaling almost $10.1 billion, a year-over-year increase of 27% for accounts and a 41% increase in assets;

  • The average account balance grew almost 11% in 2010 to $1,627; and,

  • HSA investment assets reached an estimated $725 million in 2010 (102% year-over-year increase), and are projected to reach $10.3 billion by the end of 2015.

Devenir conservatively projected the HSA market to reach $61 billion in assets by the end of 2015, a 43% compound annual growth rate over the next five years. Devenir also projected that HSA investment dollars will continue to grow quickly as health savings account user’s balances become larger, representing 17% of all HSA assets by the end of 2015.

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King Kullen implements NuVal nutrition scoring system

BY Allison Cerra

BETHPAGE, N.Y. — New York-based supermarket retailer King Kullen announced that it is partnering with NuVal to provide customers with better insight of what foods they should be eating.

NuVal’s nutrition scoring system — in which store items receive a NuVal score from 1 to 100, making it easy for consumers to compare the overall nutrition of the foods they buy at a glance — will be implemented in all of King Kullen’s stores, which are located throughout Long Island and Staten Island.

King Kullen co-president J. Donald Kennedy said, “Through this partnership, NuVal and King Kullen will help customers learn how to live better, more nutritious lifestyles. By putting NuVal scores on our shelves, we’re giving our shoppers the ability to instantly find and ‘trade up’ to more nutritious items within each food category."

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