CompUSA falls short of 1Q targets

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CompUSA Inc. (NYSE: CPU) posted a wider-than-expected loss in its first quarter Thursday, losing $12.1 million, or 13 cents a share, on sales of $1.36 billion. Its shares closed unchanged at 5 7/8.

First Call consensus expected it to lose 11 cents a share in the quarter.

The $1.36 billion in sales represents a 2 percent decline from the year-ago quarter when it earned $8.1 million, or 9 cents a share, on sales of $1.39 billion.

Excluding the costs associated with the its information technology initiatives and other non-recurring and transition costs, CompUSA reported a net loss of $2.6 million, or 3 cents a share in the quarter.

"Our gross margins exceeded 15% this quarter -- the highest for any quarter in our history -- and our core business returned to operating profitability," said CEO James Halpin in a prepared release. "These results represent a significant milestone for CompUSA and our decision to focus on profitability rather than top-line sales growth."

Direct sales in the quarter decreased 19 percent to $410 million compared with the same period a year ago. Company officials said the decrease was primarily a result of reducing or eliminating sales to customers that did not meet certain profitability objectives and the consolidation of the direct sales organization to a regional sales force with centralized sales support.

CompUSA shares were trading at a 52-week high of 16 3/16 last November before falling to a low of 5 5/16 in October.

Ten of the 13 analysts following the stock maintain either a "hold" or "sell" recommendation.>