Williams-Sonoma earnings fall 42 percent

San Francisco-based Williams-Sonoma, parent of Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma Home, saw first-quarter net earnings fall 42 percent to $10.4 million from $18.2 million in the same period last year. Still, the lower earnings beat Wall Street estimates, thanks to “controlled costs” and improved distribution to stores, as well as a reduction in catalog mailings, the company said.

Sales dropped 4.2 percent to $781.8 million.

Howard Lester, chairman and CEO, said the company will reduce its revenue guidance for the year because of a “continuing deterioration in the macroeconomic environment and industry-wide sales declines in the home furnishings category overall.”

Comparable-store sales fell 4.8 percent at Williams-Sonoma kitchen product stores and a full 10.5 percent at Pottery Barn stores. Comparable-store sales took the biggest hit at the company’s outlet stores, falling 13 percent, while Pottery Barn Kids stores saw a 10.9 percent decline.

The company opened two new West Elm stores and closed none in the quarter. Four Williams-Sonoma stores were opened, while four others were closed; and two Potter Barn stores opened their doors in the United States, while two were closed.

In all the, company currently operates 603 stores, seven mail order catalogs and six e-commerce Web sites.