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CANTON, MA- A sharp drop in sales of projection televisions and a decline in prices on flat panel units caused sales to plunge 14% at Tweeter Home Entertainment Group Inc., but the consumer electronics retailer said despite that decline, it managed to narrow fourth quarter losses by $3.2 million.

The company reported a loss of $16.8 million, or 66 cents per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared to the same period last year when it lost $20 million, or 81 cents per share. Sales for the quarter were off sharply, dropping from last year’s $188.3 million to $162.3 million. Sales at stores open at least a year were also off by 13%, the company said.

The Canton, MA company, which operates 153 stores in eight markets under the Tweeter, Sound Advice, hifi buys and Showcase Home Entertainment flags, is facing tough competition from discount retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City in the high-end television and home entertainment market.

Tweeter President and CEO Joe McGuire said a slowdown in the sale of projection TVs during the past year, along with a sharp drop in the price of flat panel displays, was largely responsible for the quarter’s poor performance.

“It has been just a stunningly promotional, highly competitive environment with really collapsing price points, and a clear war between two technologies inside of a flat-panel business,” McGuire said in a conference call with investors.

He said although dollar sales of flat panel televisions were up 32% and unit sales increased 51%, revenue from projection sets dropped 16% during the three month period, sending total revenue for the entire television category up only 8%.

Tweeter reported a loss of $16.5 million, or 66 cents a share for the full year on sales of $775.3 million. Last year, Tweeter posted a loss of $74.4 million, or $3.03 per share on sales of 795.1 million.

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