Shares of Williams Sonoma Inc. rose nearly 3% late Wednesday after the retailer reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings above expectations and said its board of directors authorized a dividend increase. Williams Sonoma said it earned $145 million, or $1.63 a share, in the quarter, compared with $141 million, or $1.55 a share, in the year-ago. Adjusted for one-time items, Williams Sonoma earned $1.55 a share. Sales fell to $1.582 billion, compared with $1.586 billion a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected adjusted earnings of $1.51 a share on sales of $1.607 billion. Williams Sonoma holiday season was "one of the best" for the company, CEO Laura Alber said in a statement. The company said its board of directors authorized a 5% dividend increase to 39 cents a share. Shares of Williams Sonoma ended the regular session up 1.3%. In a separate statement, it said Sandra Stangl, president of Williams Sonoma's Pottery Barn brands, will resign from the company March 31. The company named Marta Benson president of Pottery Barn and Jennifer Kellor as president of Pottery Barn Kids and PBTeen.
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