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Blue Nile delivers excellent fourth quarter results

Feb '10
Blue Nile, Inc. the leading online retailer of diamonds and fine jewelry, reported financial results for its fourth quarter (13 weeks) and fiscal year (52 weeks) ended January 3, 2010.

Net sales for the 13-week fourth quarter increased 20.0% to $102.9 million from $85.8 million in the 14-week fourth quarter of 2008. On a comparable 13-week to 13-week basis, net sales increased 27.4% year-over-year. Operating income for the quarter rose 55.0% to $8.2 million, from $5.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Net income totaled $5.4 million, an increase of 54.6% over the fourth quarter last year. Earnings per diluted share increased 45.8% to $0.35, compared to $0.24 in the fourth quarter of 2008. Non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA increased 38.3% to $10.6 million for the quarter, compared to $7.7 million for the fourth quarter last year.

For the full 52-week year, Blue Nile reported net sales of $302.1 million, compared to $295.3 million in the 53-week year of 2008, an increase of 2.3%. Operating income rose 21.0% to $19.3 million from $16.0 million in the prior year. Net income for the year increased 10.1% to $12.8 million and earnings per diluted share increased 12.0% to $0.84. Non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA for 2009 increased 16.0% to $29.1 million.

Net cash provided by operating activities totaled $39.0 million for the year. Non-GAAP free cash flow for the year increased to $36.7 million.

"Blue Nile delivered excellent fourth quarter results with strong sales and earnings growth," said Diane Irvine, Chief Executive Officer. "Our brand and our value proposition are resonating with consumers both in the U.S. and in international markets. We are excited about the significant growth opportunities we see ahead and expect to further expand our market share in 2010 and beyond."

On February 9, 2010, Blue Nile's Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to $100 million of the Company's common stock over 24 months. The timing and amount of any shares repurchased will be determined by the Company's management based on its evaluation of market conditions and other factors. Repurchases may also be made under a Rule 10b5-1 plan, which would permit shares to be repurchased when the Company might otherwise be precluded from doing so under insider trading laws.

Selected Financial Highlights

• For the fourth quarter, international sales grew 69.6% to a record level $11.7 million. Excluding the impact from changes in foreign exchange rates, international sales increased 59.4%. For the full year, international sales totaled $33.2 million, a 19.9% increase compared to sales of $27.7 million for fiscal year 2008. Excluding the impact from changes in foreign exchange rates, international sales increased 27.4% for the fiscal year.
• Gross profit for the quarter totaled $22.3 million. As a percent of net sales, gross profit improved 110 basis points to 21.7% compared to 20.6% for the fourth quarter of 2008.

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