NutriSystem looks to discount retailer

Can NutriSystem Inc. bulk up at Wal-Mart?

The diet-plan purveyor yesterday said it had snagged a deal to sell a two-week, $148 "starter" version of its weight-loss program at 3,200 Wal-Mart stores.

Shares in the Horsham company jumped as much as 22 percent at one point, and volume surged by a factor of 20 over average.

NutriSystem, whose second-quarter profit fell 60 percent on a revenue decline of 32 percent from last year, said it was hitting Wal-Mart shelves "at the brink of the holiday rush and leading into the height of the 2010 New Year's resolution season."

The company has had a deal since January to sell NutriSystem in Costco stores. "We're still there," NutriSystem spokeswoman Susan McGowan said of Costco yesterday tues, but she would not say how Costco sales were going.

Analysts Mitchell B. Pinheiro and Brian Holland, at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, put out a note to investors that the Wal-Mart deal was "on a much greater scale" than Costco.

But the duo concluded, "We are not looking for any meaningful lift from Wal-Mart" in the fourth quarter.

Online layaway

Many stores ditched layaway programs in the years of easy credit, but not Kmart. Now, having detected new interest in the old-fashioned payment method, the retailer is taking layaway to the Internet.

Kmart's owner, Sears Holdings Corp.announced yesterday that Kmart and Sears customers could go online to put 10 percent down on a purchase and make biweekly payments on an eight-week layaway plan.

Customers may use a debit card, or store gift card to make the payments. They can also use a credit card, though it's not clearit was unclear whom that might benefit.


People who filed for six-month extensions on their 2008 federal income tax returns need to take note.

Your new filing deadline of Oct. 15 is fast approaching. The IRS says 264,000 Pennsylvanians and 295,000 New Jersey residents filed for extensions.