The Jones Group Inc. on Wednesday reported a decline in profits due to acquisition costs and restructuring charges, but adjusted earnings per share beat Wall Street’s expectations.

This story first appeared in the April 28, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For the three months ended April 2, income available to shareholders fell 33.6 percent to $24.9 million, or 30 cents a diluted share, compared with $37.5 million, or 45 cents, last year. The current quarter reflected the impact of $11 million for its Stuart Weitzman acquisition costs and restructuring and strategic review expenses. The year-ago quarter reflected a $3 million charge in connection with the acquisition costs of the Robert Rodriguez business, as well as other restructuring costs. Excluding the charges in both quarters, EPS would have been 38 cents versus 47 cents in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted EPS beat Wall Street’s consensus of 30 cents, according to Yahoo Finance.

Total revenues in the first quarter rose 8.3 percent to $961.3 million from $887.3 million, which included an 8.3 percent gain in sales to $949 million from $876.1 million.

Wesley R. Card, chief executive officer, told analysts during a conference call, “Inventories are well positioned, and while higher than the same period last year, where inventories were very light, they are current and in line with our plans.”

Card said that price increases so far have been modest, and there has been little price resistance by its customers. Moreover, as commodity product prices escalate this summer, the company is focused on improving its operating performance in all segments, including buying very tightly against demand, as well as managing the supply chain to avoid unnecessary air freight and reducing costs where it can.

In a telephone interview, Card said the firm is buying as close to order as possible.

He also said sales trends were good through March, and then slowed slightly during the Easter shift as cooler weather prevailed in April.

“Now that the weather is warming up, we’ll get a better take on seasonal items. The consumer is still there and still buying. We’ll see how the season develops,” he said.

Card also said the company’s strong balance sheet — no short-term borrowings and $300 million in cash — opens it up for acquisitions, and that the firm continues to look at opportunities. The focus being on building its international presence. Also, Card declined to comment on the firm’s reported interest in footwear firm Jimmy Choo.

Richard Dickson, president and ceo of Jones’ Branded Businesses, told analysts about the firm’s new initiatives, such as taking key items and connecting them with specific marketing campaigns. It’s a move to strengthen each brand’s image. For Jones New York, the current key item it is highlighting is the Easy Care white shirt. In Nine West, the marketing is centered right now on the espadrille.

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