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    BJ's Sales Grow, Earnings Drop in '04; But a Healthier Diet Drives Feb. Sales

    NATICK, Mass. -- While sales at BJ's Wholesale Club for the fourth quarter and full year 2004 grew, the warehouse club chain did not escape the impact of lease accounting revisions which resulted in a drop in net income from the prior year.

    NATICK, Mass. -- While sales at BJ's Wholesale Club for the fourth quarter and full year 2004 grew, the warehouse club chain did not escape the impact of lease accounting revisions which resulted in a drop in net income from the prior year.

    Total sales for the fourth quarter 2004 rose by 6.9 percent to $2 billion, and comparable club sales increased by 3.4 percent, including a contribution from gasoline sales of approximately 1.2 percent. Total sales for the full year 2004 increased by 10.2 percent to $7.2 billion and comparable club sales increased by 6.0 percent, including a contribution from gasoline sales of 1.1 percent.

    Fourth quarter net income for BJ's was $47.0 million, or 67 cents per diluted share, which was 2 cents below the low end of the company's earnings guidance provided November 16, 2004, compared to net income of $49.2 million, or 70 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2003.

    For the full year, income was 114.4 million, or $1.63 per share, compared to $102.9 million or $1.47 in 2003.

    The company's correction of errors in its lease accounting reduced fourth quarter and full year 2004 earnings by $7.2 million pre-tax, or 6 cents per diluted share. Without this error, BJ's earnings would have reached the high end of its earlier earnings guidance of 69 cents to 73 cents per diluted share for the quarter.

    In other BJ's news, the company said food contributed greatly to February sales results, owing to the company’s upgrades in its presentation of produce and other fresh foods. "On a comparable club basis, food increased by 11 percent," said BJ's president and c.e.o. Mike Wedge. "General merchandise sales were approximately even with last year."

    Sales for February 2005 increased by 10.4 percent to $535.9 million from $485.2 million in February 2004. Comparable club sales increased by 6.7 percent, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of approximately 30 basis points. For the February sales period last year, the company reported comparable club sales of 7.9 percent including a contribution from sales of gasoline of 30 basis points.

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