Oxford Industries Inc. reported double-digit declines in its top and bottom lines in the third quarter, but beat analysts’ expectations and offered better-than-expected guidance for the current quarter.

This story first appeared in the December 10, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For the three months ended Oct. 31, the Atlanta-based apparel maker recorded an 11.2 percent decline in profits to $4.2 million, or 27 cents a diluted share, from $4.8 million, or 31 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding a charge related to inventory accounting, the company’s third-quarter profits totaled 32 cents a share. Analysts polled by Yahoo Finance expected earnings per share of 18 cents on average.

Sales in the quarter fell 17.9 percent to $200.5 million from $244.2 million in 2008.

Consolidated gross margin improved by 170 basis points to 40 percent from 38.3 percent a year ago. Quarter-on-quarter, the company cut the cost of goods sold by $30.3 million, to $120.3 million, and selling, general and administrative costs by $12.2 million, to $72.4 million.

All four business units registered an operating profit in the quarter.

“Effective risk management, inventory control and operating discipline allowed each of our operating groups to contribute to positive operating results,” said J. Hicks Lanier, chairman and chief executive officer.

Operating income improved 17 percent to $5.2 million at Lanier Clothes and more than doubled to $2.1 million at Tommy Bahama, but fell 28.3 percent to $2.3 million at Ben Sherman and 13.7 percent to $6.3 million at Oxford Apparel.

Revenues declined across all of the firm’s divisions. Sales dropped 9.9 percent at the Tommy Bahama unit to $75.4 million; 22 percent to $29.8 million at Ben Sherman; 19.7 percent to $35.6 million at Lanier Clothes, and 22.9 percent to $60.2 million at Oxford Apparel.

The company said it expects full-year EPS of $1.20 to $1.25, implying fourth-quarter EPS between 48 cents and 53 cents.

Before the announcement, analysts expected fourth-quarter EPS of 8 cents.

For the nine months, profits fell 28.4 percent to $11.3 million, or 72 cents a share, from $15.8 million, or $1 a share, a year ago. Sales in the three quarters declined 18.4 percent to $610.2 million from $747.7 million.

Shares of Oxford closed the session before the announcement up 1 cent at $21.07.

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