NEW YORK — Surprise, surprise.
The Kohl’s Corp. onslaught continued unabated in the third quarter as the turbocharged hybrid retailer — yet again — piled up sales and profits advances.
For the three months ended Nov. 2, the Menomonee Falls, Wisc.-based firm posted a 33.1 percent expansion in net earnings to $133.4 million, or 39 cents a diluted share. That compares with last year when the company raked in $100.2 million, or 29 cents. Earnings per share eclipsed Wall Street forecasts by 2 cents.
Sales for the period likewise advanced, gaining 21.8 percent to $2.14 billion from $1.76 billion, as comparable-store sales improved 5.9 percent.
“This is another fantastic quarter, no doubt about it,” said Eric Beder, an analyst with Ladenburg, Thalmann & Co. Inc. “There are just no ifs, ands or buts about these guys. They are the real deal. Kohl’s is the premiere growth company in retail. Come good times or bad, they know what they’re doing.”
In a conference call with analysts, chief executive officer Larry Montgomery said, “We are very pleased with our 11th consecutive quarter of earnings growth in excess of 30 percent. Currently we are on track to achieve our seventh consecutive year of earnings growth above 35 percent.”
In what has seemingly become routine for Kohl’s, the company executed well from a regional, merchandising and marketing standpoint.
“All of our regions performed well, and all of our merchandise categories contributed to the performance,” president Kevin Mansell said. “From a merchandise perspective, our best performers were women’s accessories, women’s apparel and children’s wear. In women’s apparel we had strong double-digit growth in juniors, especially bottoms. And our key traffic drivers continued to be the execution of our Get It marketing program and our Tray and Tower program. Looking forward, we feel we are very well positioned for the holiday shopping season.”
Other quarterly highlights included a gross margin gain to 34.7 percent of net sales, up from 34.6 percent a year ago. Greater efficiencies also built a better bottom line, as selling, general and administrative expenses ticked down to 21.2 percent of net sales from 21.6 percent last year.
Overall, for the first nine months of the year, Kohl’s posted a 39.2 percent rally in net income to $364.4 million, or $1.06 a diluted share. That compares with last year’s earnings of $261.9 million, or 77 cents.
Sales for the period shot up another 24.6 percent to $5.9 billion from $4.8 billion a year ago, as same-store sales leapt 8.1 percent. Gross margins also improved, rising to 35.3 percent of net sales from 35.1 percent a year ago, and SG&A once again declined, falling to 21.7 percent of sales from 22.3 percent.
Looking ahead, Mansell said November comps are expected to come in flat to up in the low-single digits with mid- to high-single-digit comps on tap for December.
Montgomery added that Kohl’s is comfortable with the fourth-quarter EPS forecast of 79 to 86 cents, with a consensus estimate of 81 cents.