Marriott Corp. expects earnings for 1978 be up in excess of 35 percent. An incorrect percentage forecast was reported yesterday.
Consumers are still flocking to the retail catalogue showrooms of Best Products Co. in record numbers, convincing management of the Virginia firm that a long-predicted recession is not around the corner.
This was the assessment yesterday of Best President Andrew Lewis, as he reported sales growth in recent weeks at levels 30 percent above the same period in 1978. Speaking to analysts and reporters here, Lewis also said that his firm achieved record sales and profits for the quarter and six months ended Dec. 31.
Marriott Corp., in a preliminary earnings statement, also had good news to report yesterday. President J. W. Marriott Jr. said profits for calendar 1978 would be up 45 percent from the previous year.
Best, which operates more than 60 outlets in nine states, reported six month profits of $24.1 million ($2.73 a share), up 34 percent from $17.9 million ($2.05) a year earlier, as sales jumped 31 percent to $443 million.
During the recent quarter -- which included a boom Christmas season during which some Best stores were so inundated with business that popular merchandise was sold out -- Best profits rose 34 percent to $20.3 million ($2.30 a share) from $15.1 million ($1.73) and sales increased 30 percent to $326 million.
Lewis said sales have been strong in all geographical regions and merchandise categories, with particular holiday strength in toys, jewelry, electronics and stereo systems.
In answer to a question about business prospects this year, Lewis said that over the last four years in retailing there have been predictions of a "bad Christmas" followed by record sales. Economists' predictions for this year see the "most famous recession ever," he added.
The Best officer said his company's four outlets in the Washington area are among the top dozen in the chain, making this one of Best's key markets. This year, Best plans to open an additional 12 or 13 stores and over the next five years, management is planning to expand outlets by 20 percent a year.
Next fall, Best will expand in the Los Angeles/Southern California market from 6 to 10 outlets and, in Philadelphia, Best will add 3 outlets to the 2 opened last fall. Best also will enter the southern Florida market this year with up to 5 units between Miami and West Palm Beach -- with up to 12 stores planned there.
The Richmond company is the nation's largest showroom merchandiser and a key element of its success is a 500-page catalogue of general merchandise available at its stores, at sharply discounted prices. Best's first showroom was opened in 1956.
Marriott Corp., a Bethesda-based hotel, restaurant and airline catering company, issued a forecast of 1978 results because of a transition period created by a change of fiscal years. Audited results are due in February.
By restating results for 1978 and 1977 to reflect full calendar years, Marriott said earnings per share will increase to more than $1.40 from $1.04 the previous year. As calculated by Marriott in previous years on a weighted average shares outstanding, profits rose in 1978 to more than $1.45 a share from $1.07 in 1977, when earnings approximated $39 million.
Marriott said profits rose in 1978 for all major business segments hotels, restaurants, food services, amusement parks and cruise ships. In 1979, he added, the company is "heading for more records... we see the predictions for a slump in the economy, but assuming it's not too deep, 1979 looks like a great year for us."