Youth retailer The Buckle Inc. generated a small increase in fourth-quarter profits despite only a small boost in its comparable-store sales.
In the 13 weeks ended Jan. 31, the Kearney, Neb.-based specialty retailer recorded net income of $60.1 million, or $1.25 a diluted share, 1.4 percent better than the $59.3 million, or $1.23, registered in the 2013 quarter. On average, analysts expected EPS of $1.24.
As the company reported last month, sales were up 4.3 percent, to $353.5 million from $339 million a year ago. Gross margin contracted 20 basis points from year-ago levels to 47.4 percent of sales.
Quarterly comps rose 1.1 percent, allowing the company to report a flat comp performance for the full year, while e-commerce sales, not included in comps through 2014, rose 12.6 percent to $33 million in the 13 weeks. In the quarter, units per transaction were up 3.5 percent, average transaction value up 5 percent and average unit retail up 1.5 percent.
When the company reported year-to-date results at the end of the first three quarters of the fiscal year, comps had declined 0.5 percent.
Karen Rhoads, chief financial officer, told analysts on a morning conference call that the company’s men’s business in the quarter was up about 10 percent while women’s sales were flat. Best performers in the men’s area included denim, casual bottoms, woven and knit shirts, sweaters, accessories and outerwear.
Denim wasn’t among the stronger performers on the women’s side, although relatively strong figures were registered in wovens, knits, sweaters, activewear, outerwear and footwear.
The average price point for men’s denim for the full year strengthened to $92.05 from $89.15 but fell to $98.20 from $98.85 in women’s.
Patricia Whistler, senior vice president of women’s merchandising, said the outlook for denim in the coming year was improved. “We kind of had a quiet cycle there on denim,” she said, adding that it’s “opening up a little bit, which we’re loving. It plays into our strong suit.”
Among the items showing potential for 2015 were “destructed denim, just some nice abrasions, a variety of fabrics and finishes.”
For the full year, net income was flat at $162.6 million in both 2013 and 2014, with EPS down to $3.38 from $3.39. Sales rose 2.2 percent to $1.15 billion from $1.13 billion.
The company reported that sales per square foot were $459 last year versus $461 in the prior year.