Short-term challenges in the first quarter trumped Christopher & Banks Corp.’s heady expectations for its MPW and outlet formats.
The company, beset by both port delay and weather-related obstacles in the first three months of the retail year, fell to a loss, although smaller than analysts, on average, had expected, while its revenues slumped below Wall Street’s estimates.
The Minneapolis-based specialty retailer registered a net loss of $1.4 million, or 4 cents a diluted share, in the three months ended May 2, versus net income of $2.6 million, or 7 cents, in the prior-year period. Analysts expected the red ink to total 5 cents.
Revenues pulled back 11.4 percent to $91.6 million from $103.4 million a year ago, below the consensus estimate of $93.1 million. Comparable sales, which now include e-commerce results, declined 11.7 percent. The company operated with an average of 65 fewer units in the first quarter and finished the quarter with 518 stores.
Gross margin fell to 35.2 percent from 36.7 percent.
Peter Michielutti, chief operating and financial officer, told analysts on a conference call Tuesday, “Keep in mind that due to our price points in the cost of shipped goods, it would have been prohibitive for us to air freight merchandise in, which would have had a significant impact on our margins.”
To minimize the damage, C&B moved fashion events from March to April, when inventories were already improved; transferred its Friends & Family promotion to March; canceled its February mailer, and delayed some of its conversions to its MPW (Missy, Petite and Women’s) from its smaller, less comprehensive CJ Banks format.
“On the positive side, as of the end of April, we were current on receipts,” Michielutti said.
The company provided guidance for revenues of $100 million to $103 million in the second quarter and $416 million to $423 million for the full year, below the respective analysts’ expectations of $105.7 million and $426.5 million. But the below-Street guidance pressured the stock, which fell 18 percent to $4.37 in New York Stock Exchange trading Tuesday.
The company currently has 51 outlet stores, a figure the retailer believes it can double in the next few years.
“These stores generate healthy operating margins and we see room for further margin expansion as we increase the percentage of made-for product in these stores and refine the overall outlet merchandise assortment,” Michielutti said.