Circuit City's (NYSE:CC) mixed fourth-quarter numbers reported today have put a damper on its efforts to put itself back on the map.

Even as it handily beat analysts' estimates with a 26% increase in net income, earnings were driven by cost reductions while same-store sales were fairly anemic. Given the competitive landscape, it still seems too early to call a turnaround despite investors bidding the shares higher this morning.

The company reported fourth-quarter earnings of $89.6 million, or $0.43 per share, compared with $70.9 million, or $0.34 per share, in the same quarter last year. The consensus estimate was for earnings of $0.36 per share. Total sales increased 2% to $3.25 billion, while the company only eked out a 1% increase in same-store sales over the same quarter last year.

It's commendable that Circuit City's press release said that the company is "not satisfied with our sales and earnings performance for fiscal 2004," acknowledging that "a key component of a sustained earnings turnaround will be strong sales growth."

Much has been made of Circuit City's competitive stance with such discounters as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Internet-based foes such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), and, of course, major rival Best Buy (NYSE:BBY). (Earlier this week, we noted the head-to-head earnings coming from these consumer electronics archrivals. Today, Seth Jayson covered Best Buy's earnings.)

Circuit City announced acquisitions of InterTAN (NYSE:ITN), a Canada-based electronics retailer, and MusicNow, a digital music platform. It will pay $284 million, or $14 per share, a 26% premium to InterTAN's closing price yesterday. InterTAN operates nearly 1,000 stores in Canada, and Circuit City plans to expand distribution of its private-label goods here in the U.S. Circuit City says the acquisition will add to earnings this year.

While the MusicNow purchase sounds exciting -- given all the hype over digital music a la Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and increasing musical partnerships -- how much it can add to Circuit City's fortunes, at least for now, is in doubt. (Circuit City has said the acquisition will not have a material impact on this year's earnings.) What it could do is lure customers and repair its dull image; it hasn't had a cutting-edge rep in quite some time.

Circuit City shares were up more than 8% recently. Some of that elation may be piggybacked on Best Buy's earnings growth, excitement over Circuit City's acquisitions, or just relief about its large bump in net income. The InterTAN acquisition may be a step in the right direction, but it's still too early to move into this City.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned.