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Mixed bag for CompUSA

The computer retailer releases figures showing that sales at stores are down, but the bottom line is being helped by the Computer City stores it acquired.

Computer superstore retailer CompUSA reported figures showing it is continuing to get hammered by PC industry price competition.

CompUSA said that comparable store sales decreased by 7.2 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 1999 ending March 27, which was in line with earlier warnings.

The chain did, however, tout net sales figures, saying that those numbers increased 16 percent to $1.69 billion from $1.45 billion for the comparable period ended March 28, 1998. The company calculated those figures by including results from the 37 converted Computer City stores that CompUSA is continuing to operate; comparable store sales figures did not include the former Computer City stores.

The company did not provide a dollar figure for the same store sales, which comprised 148 stores open one year or more during the quarter.

The news follows announcements earlier this month that the company would post losses for the third and fourth quarter due to lower than expected sales.

Compared to the third quarter of fiscal 1998, unit sales of desktop and notebook computers increased about 20 percent and 55 percent, respectively, while average selling prices for each category decreased about 15 percent, the company reported.

Tough competition in the retail PC market has taken its toll on CompUSA's stock price. The stock closed at $7 today, 26 percent off of its 52-week high.

Third quarter sales of CompUSA, the company's recently announced Internet and mail order subsidiary, increased 18 percent to $68.2 million as compared to the same period a year ago.

While mail order sales are currently the largest component of CompUSA's business, total Internet sales for the third quarter increased in excess of 100 percent from the comparable period a year ago, the company said.

The company plans to announce operating results for the third quarter on May 5, after the market closes.

The company is one of the nation's largest retailers and resellers of personal computers and related products and services, operating about 208 stores across the United States.

Reuters contributed to this report.