Chico’s FAS Inc. beat analyst estimates in earnings and sales for the fourth quarter.
The specialty retailer reported diluted earnings per share of 5 cents, which was better than the FactSet estimate of zero earnings. The adjusted net income for the fourth quarter was $6.2 million, which was much lower than last year’s $10.9 million.
Chico’s sold its Boston Proper catalogue business and restructured, which led to charges of $14.6 million. The impact of those charges caused Chico’s to record a net loss of $21.1 million, which was below the net loss in the 2014 fourth quarter of $31.8 million.
Net sales for the fourth quarter were $627.4 million, a drop from last year’s $656.9 million, but beat the FactSet estimate of $625 million. For fiscal 2015, sales were $2.64 billion, a decrease of 1.2 percent from last year’s sales of $2.68 billion. The drop was blamed on a decline in Boston Proper sales and a decline in comp sales.
“While we are disappointed with our fourth-quarter sales, we are pleased that our responsiveness and disciplined inventory management in this intensely promotional environment allowed us to achieve positive gross margin leverage and a slight decline in total inventories over last year,” said Shelley Broader, the chief executive officer of Chico’s.
Fourth quarter gross margins were $318.5 million versus last year’s $328.2 million. Gross margin was 50.8 percent of sales, an 80 basis point increase.
Chico’s suffered from the warm winter as sweaters did not sell well, but the company said its jacket business was strong. The accessories business of small leather goods, belts and scarves is performing well.
Looking ahead, Chico’s forecast for fiscal 2016 is that sales will be flat to slightly negative with gross margins also flat. Chico’s plans to close 50 stores, but also open 25 stores. Chico’s downplayed its holiday season on its earnings conference call, saying spring is its “Christmas.”
Chico’s stock is down 38 percent for the past year, but in the last four weeks the stock turned around and gained 12 percent in value to trade lately at $10.92. Chico’s spent $40 million buying back shares in the fourth quarter.