NEW YORK — So far this week it’s been a mixed bag for retailers posting quarterly results, but one theme is quickly emerging: Fall is going to be hot, and marked by more full-priced selling.
Although cautious about the performance of its department store group, Saks Inc. is expecting the sales momentum at its Saks Fifth Avenue division to continue in the second half. At J.C. Penney, the back-to-school season is surging ahead of expectations, while TJX Cos. anticipates its better inventory positions to pay off this fall.
Meanwhile, the market was digesting Kmart’s quarterly results, which included news that the board empowered its chairman to use its more than $2 billion in cash for investments.
Impacted by poor sales at its department store group, Saks Inc. delivered a wider loss on higher sales for the second quarter. The loss came in at $28.9 million, or 20 cents, compared with $25.8 million, or 18 cents, a year ago. The loss includes after-tax charges of $2.1 million in connection with the disposal of long-lived assets. Sales gained 9.2 percent to $1.35 billion from $1.24 billion.
During the period, the company retired $72 million of senior unsecured notes and paid a $2-per-share dividend to common shareholders totaling $285 million.
On a divisional basis, Saks Fifth Avenue’s operating loss for the quarter was nearly halved, to $12.4 million from $22.1 million, and operating income for the six months jumped 235 percent to $36.4 million from $10.9 million last year, with the gain driven in part by a reduction in promotional activity. In the department store group, operating income fell by 10 percent to $33.3 million from $37 million.
Including unallocated corporate expenses, Saks Inc.’s operating loss in the quarter grew to $19.7 million from $12.6 million last year, while operating income for the six months grew to $41.1 million from the year-ago mark of $33.9 million.
AG Edwards analyst Bob Buchanan was critical of Saks’ expenses. He said in his research note following the retailer’s results that the expense ratio “has now increased eight quarters in a row and 15 of the past 17 quarters.” Buchanan said “although the backdrop of surging high-end sales has helped lift results for Saks Fifth Avenue and the company as a whole during the past four quarters, at some point that surge will dissipate.”
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