The message from Burlington Stores Inc. is clear: It’s a good time to be an off-pricer.
The company posted better-than-expected profits and although it is planning sales for the fourth quarter conservatively, it’s ready to adjust if things turn out better than expected. Burlington’s buyers are also ready to scoop up the excess inventory that has been gathering in the coffers of full-price retailers.
All that sat well with investors, who pushed the company’s stock up 7.1 percent in midday trading to $47.37.
Third-quarter net profits totaled $15.1 million and compared favorably with year-ago losses of $34.2 million. Adjusted profits per share rose to 25 cents from 16 percent a year earlier and 2 cents ahead of the 23 cents Wall Street analysts projected.
Sales for the three months ended Oct. 31 rose 6.2 percent to $1.24 billion from $1.17 billion with a 2.8 percent gain in comparable-store sales.
Tom Kingsbury, president and chief executive officer, told analysts on a conference call that “The third quarter represented our fifth-consecutive quarter with an increase in traffic. Comparable-store inventory decreased by 7 percent, contributing to a 10 percent faster comparable-store inventory turnover during the quarter.”
Off-price giant The TJX Cos. Inc. also saw strong traffic in what has been a challenging period for many of the full-price chains.
Looking ahead, Kingsbury said, “The disruption created by the increased inventory at many retailers and our sufficient open to buy should give us great pack and hold opportunities as we turn the corner into 2016. We expect to end the year at a low- to midsingle digit decrease in comp-store inventory. We’ve decided to advance approximately $50 million of Easter receipts into the fourth quarter to ensure we capitalize on our first-quarter Easter opportunity.”
For the fourth quarter, Burlington is looking for total sales to gain 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent while comps range from flat to up 1 percent.
“It is prudent to plan comp sales conservatively and drive optimal profitability,” Kingsbury said.
Earnings per share were pegged at $1.44 to $1.48, shy of the $1.49 analysts projected.