"We had a very solid 2003 holiday selling season characterized by a pick- up in mall sales, increased strength on the software side of the business, and hardware unit sales that exceeded our forecasts," said Jeffrey W. Griffiths, president and chief executive officer. "We believe that these accomplishments are primarily the result of steps that we took to maximize the power of our global store network during the past nine weeks. We executed an aggressive advertising campaign that strengthened recognition of our brand among gamers and holiday shoppers alike. We also drove software and hardware sales by stepping up our promotional activity and by offering EB exclusive hardware bundles at attractive prices. These strategies enabled us to continue to gain market share during November according to NPD Group."
Mr. Griffiths added, "The electronic entertainment industry continues to demonstrate that it is strong and resilient. As we enter 2004, we believe that the estimated 37 million installed hardware base in the United States will continue to grow and drive steady software and accessory sales. Moreover, we expect that this trend will accelerate when hardware prices decline in the upcoming year as anticipated. Electronics Boutique expects to take full advantage of this opportunity by continuing to execute an aggressive store expansion program, significantly increasing our advertising activity, and maintaining a sharp focus on our inventory levels."
Electronics Boutique is narrowing its previous earnings guidance to now be in the range of $1.36 to $1.42 per diluted share for the fiscal fourth quarter ending January 31, 2004 and $1.60 to $1.66 for the full 2004 fiscal year. The company expects to announce fourth quarter and year-end results for fiscal 2004 in mid-March.
The company will host an investor conference call at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time today to review these sales results. The call will be open to all interested investors through a live audio Web broadcast via the Internet at www.ebholdings.com. For those who are not able to listen to the live broadcast, the call will be archived for two weeks on the web site. A telephonic playback of the conference call will also be available from January 6, 2004 at 12 noon (Eastern) through January 13, 2004 (Eastern). Listeners should call 800-642-1687 (domestic) or 706-645-9291 (international) and use access code: 4709504.