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Original Source: FD (FAIR DISCLOSURE) WIRE
OPERATOR: Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Bon-Ton Stores second-quarter earnings release conference call. (OPERATOR INSTRUCTIONS) It is now my pleasure to turn the floor over to your host, Mr. Joseph Curvelli (ph), for Bon-Ton Stores. Sir, the floor is yours.
JOSEPH CURVELLI, BON-TON STORES: Thank you Anthony. Good morning and welcome to the Bon-Ton's second-quarter fiscal 2004 conference call. Mr. Tim Grumbacher, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Bud Bergren, President and CEO, Mr. Jim Baireuther, Vice Chairman, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer, and Mr. Keith Plowman, Senior Vice President, Finance and Principal Accounting Officer, will host today's call.
You may access a copy of the earnings release on the Company's website at www.bonton.com. You may also obtain a copy of the earnings release by calling 610-642-8253.
Before the Bon-Ton starts their comments I would like to point out that any statements about future expectations, plans or prospects will be forward looking for the purposes of the SEC Safe Harbor provisions. Actual results may differ due to the factors discussed in the Company's SEC filings. Listeners are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements which speak only as of today's date. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly release any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect events or circumstances after today's date or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. The inclusion of any statement in this conference call does not constitute an admission by the Bon-Ton or any other person that the events or circumstances described in such statements are material.
As a reminder, this call is being recorded Thursday, August 26, 2004.
At this time I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Tim Grumbacher, Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Grumbacher?
TIM GRUMBACHER, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, BON-TON STORES: Good morning. I'm pleased to be with you this morning. And by now you probably have read our press release announcing Bud Bergren as the new President and CEO Bon Ton. Bud has also been elected to the Board of Directors. Bud's appointment comes after a comprehensive search by a special committee of our Board of Directors and was unanimously supported by the Board. During the past twelve months that Bon-Ton has been involved with the due diligence, negotiations, purchase and the ongoing integration of Elder-Beerman I've gotten to know Bud well, and the more we work together the greater my appreciation is of both his ability as a strategic thinker and a manager with high standards and expectations, as well as a principled and fair individual.
At this time I would like to turn the call over to Bud.
BUD BERGREN, PRESIDENT & CEO, BON-TON STORES: Thank you Tim. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to lead this great Company and look forward to working with a team to build on our 106-year history to drive the Company's strategy going forward. The opportunity to expand our store base is considerable and our strategy of providing fashion merchandise at value prices in a convenient shopping environment in secondary and mid-size markets should generate enormous room for expansion in the combined Bon-Ton and Elder-Beerman companies. We see opportunities for further growth, especially given the extent reach of our organization and the increased capacity of two distribution centers.
My primary goal going forward is to complete the integration process and to drive shareholder value from our expanded market base. Bon-Ton and Elder-Beerman have succeeded thus far with several common strengths -- both companies have been in business for over 100 years; both benefit from a commitment to provide merchandise assortments at competitive price points, value and quality and customer services to complement our product offerings; both have strong market positions in their communities, exclusive vendors in many markets such as cosmetics and excellent customer service relationships; a strong credit card base, targets marketing using data from credit card purchases and effective loyalty programs; solid back office and computer systems, excellent distribution systems, strong vendor matrixes and solid vendor relationships, as well as an extremely talented pool of associates here at the Company. And in our integration process we also discovered that there are business opportunities within each company that afford the combined entity significant upside. Clearly the growth opportunities are compelling for the Company, and I look forward to keeping our shareholders apprised of the progress we are making.
With that, I will turn over the call to Jim Baireuther. Jim?
JIM BAIREUTHER, VICE CHAIRMAN, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER & CFO, BON-TON STORES: Thank you Bud. Good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us this morning for our second-quarter 2004 conference call. During the next few minutes I will review our operational and financial highlights for the quarter. Then Bud will give an overview of the merchandising results and an update on the assortment initiatives we're implementing in 2004. Then I will follow-up with a more detailed discussion of the financial results before we open the call up for questions.
With regard to operational highlights, we continue to integrate the two companies and the second-quarter results reflect the challenges associated with consolidating the merchandising and marketing activities of this endeavor. We are not revising our previous earning guidance at this time of $1.20 to $1.40 per share for the full year of 2004.
We reported a net loss of 380,000 or 2 cents per share for the second quarter of 2004, which includes an after-tax charge of 7 cents per share for the costs associated with closing the Company's Pottstown, Pennsylvania store. In the second quarter of 2003 net income was 858,000 or …