US convenience store operator 7-Eleven has posted a narrower fourth-quarter net loss, helped by the introduction of new products.

The Dallas-based company reported a net loss of US$6.1m, or 5 cents per share, for the fourth quarter to 31 December, compared to a loss of $11.5m, or 11 cents per share, for the year-ago period.

Total revenue for the quarter was $2.7bn, a rise of 8.6% year-on-year, while total merchandise sales rose 7.1% to $1.9bn. Same-store merchandise sales also increased.
“The 5.2% percent increase in US same-store merchandise sales in the fourth quarter reflects the strongest growth we achieved all year. It also represents our nineteenth consecutive quarterly increase,” said Jim Keyes, president and chief executive officer. “The ongoing implementation of our strategic initiatives as well as the consistent introduction of new products continues to fuel our sales growth.”

For the full year 2003, net earnings were $64.1m, or 58 cents per share, compared to $12.8m, or 13 cents per share, in 2002. Total revenue rose 10.1% to $10.9bn, while total merchandise sales rose 5.6% to $7.4bn.

The company expects to open around 100 stores throughout the US and Canada in 2004.