February 11, 2005, 12:00 AM

Blue Nile’s Q4 sales rise 30% to a record $64.5 million

Blue Nile reached record Q4 net sales of $64.5 million, up 30% from $49.6 million a year earlier, as full-year 2004 net sales rose 31% to $169.2 million from $128.9 million in 2003. The jewelry retailer is eyeing markets in Canada and the U.K.

Blue Nile Inc. reached record fourth-quarter 2004 net sales of $64.5 million, up 30% from $49.6 million a year earlier, as full-year 2004 net sales rose 31% to $169.2 million from $128.9 million in 2003. The pureplay online jewelry retailer is eyeing markets in Canada and the U.K., CEO Mark Vadon said.

“We will continue to focus on building our brand and expanding our market share in our core customized diamond jewelry business in the U.S.,” Vadon said. “We intend to extend our brand in international markets as we develop our business in Canada and in the UK.”

Q4 net income was $4.6 million, compared to $20.9 million a year earlier, Blue Nile said. Net income for the year ended Jan. 2, 2005 was $10 million, compared to $27 million for the prior year ended Dec. 31, 2003. The broad drop in net income reflects a $15.7 million tax benefit recognized in Q4 2003 from the realization of deferred tax assets related primarily to net operating loss carryovers, the company said.

Blue Nile said gross profit as a percentage of net sales was 21.9% in Q4, down from 22.4% in the year-earlier quarter. Q4 selling, general and administrative expenses rose 20.8% year-over-year to $7.3 million, reflecting expenses related to increased net sales and additional administrative costs related to operating as a public company. Blue Nile started selling shares publicly last May, raising $42.5 million in its initial public offering.

Blue Nile said it expects 2005 net sales to rise 18-25% year-over-year to a range of $200 million to $212 million.

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