In the midst of a quiet period mandated by its flirtation with another initial public offering, Neiman Marcus Group didn’t expend much energy crowing about a return to profitability in the last fiscal year.
For the year ended Aug. 1, the retailer rang up profits of $14.9 million, compared with losses of $147.2 million in the prior 12-month period. Revenues gained 5.3 percent to $5.1 billion.
The company — which was acquired by Ares Management and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $6 billion in 2013 — had paid out $289.8 million for the year to cover the interest on its debt. The investors filed in August to take Neiman’s public again, with no time frame set, although some observers speculated that the move to sell stock would help it cut down its $4.5 billion debt load.
The quarterly conference call on Tuesday detailing Neiman’s latest results was a low-key affair, presided over by Donald Grimes, who’s been executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at the company for three months.
Fourth-quarter net losses shrank to $32.9 million from $42.1 million a year ago. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization totaled $107.9 million, down slightly from $111.3 million a year earlier. Sales for the three months ended Aug. 1 rose 4.9 percent to $1.17 billion from $1.11 billion as comparable-store sales gained 1.9 percent.
Analysts were given no opportunity to pepper Grimes with questions, but he did note that Neiman’s felt the impact of the strong dollar.
“Although difficult to measure, we believe in the second half of the fiscal year, we began to feel the effects of the strengthening U.S. dollar in the form of some of our domestic customers taking advantage of the strong dollar to travel abroad and make their luxury purchases while traveling overseas,” Grimes said. “We also felt the impact of the strong dollar on tourism to key gateway markets of South Florida, New York City, Las Vegas and Hawaii. While we address these short-term challenges, we remained focused on keeping the shopping experience exciting for our customers and modernizing our brand.”
He updated investors on the company’s continuing drive to refresh its stores, including at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan, and its digital initiatives.
Neiman’s e-commerce business, which for nearly the past year has included Munich-based MyTheresa, had sales of $324 million in the fourth quarter, a comparable increase of 8.2 percent. For the year, digital sales totaled $1.3 billion, a comparable rise of 13 percent.
The company has added digital “memory mirrors” to three stores and shoppable iPads to its fleet, giving customers a better view into the retailer’s inventory.
“We also offered enhanced delivery methods that allow customers to buy online and pick up in the store, as well buy online and have the items ship from the store, including the ability for same-day delivery from all of our full-line stores,” Grimes said.