Shares of Sequential Brands Group rose sharply after the company’s first-quarter results bested Wall Street’s estimates by 6 cents, boosted by a new licensing agreement for its Martha Stewart brand with QVC.
The brand management firm also said it signed a new multiyear licensing agreement with QVC for its Martha Stewart brand. The partnership, launching in the second half of this year, will include categories such as fashion apparel, skin care, and food and beverage.
Martha Stewart said, “Our brand has always been devoted to teaching and inspiring people to live more beautiful, more functional and more meaningful lives and our products provide solutions to do just that.”
Stewart will make frequent appearances on the shopping network, as will her team of favorite experts, to showcase the new products.
Mike George, QVC president and chief executive officer, said, “QVC combines the best of retail, media and social to create the most engaging shopping experience, and to collaborate with a brand such as Martha’s further emphasizes our commitment to excellence and innovation. By leveraging the power of this relationship, QVC, which is among the nation’s top mobile and e-commerce retailers, brings to our customers Martha’s passion and expertise in a special and exciting new way.”
Karen Murray, Sequential’s ceo, said the agreement provides the Martha Stewart brand with a “new channel of distribution and further expansion into untapped categories where we see strong sales potential.”
Sequential said the Martha Stewart brand “reaches approximately 100 million consumers across all media and merchandising platforms each month.”
For the first quarter ended March 31, Sequential widened its net loss to $1.2 million, or 2 cents a diluted share, from $1.1 million, or 2 cents, a year ago. Net revenues rose 15.9 percent to $39.4 million from $34 million. On an adjusted basis, mostly in connection with severance and the accelerated vesting of previously granted stock award to its former chief executive officer, non-GAAP income for the quarter was $5.9million, with diluted earnings per share at 9 cents, compared with $2.5 million, or 4 cents, a year ago, also on a adjusted basis.
Wall Street was projecting diluted EPS of 3 cents on revenues of $37 million.
Murray, who took over the ceo post March 22, said, “Going forward our top priority is implementing new revenue initiatives across all of our brands, while maintaining a disciplined approach to expense management. At the same time, we are focused on taking the steps needed to improve our balance sheet.”
Murray also said the company has “several new organic growth initiatives under way.”
She also told analysts during the conference call that the company partnered with Lord & Taylor last month to host a two-day experiential health, wellness and shopping event at its Manhattan flagship with a 1,000-square-foot pop-up shop that included yoga classes led by the firm’s experts from its Gaiam brand. She added that the company at some point would “provide a blueprint to implement a detailed concept for Gaiam. “At its Joe’s brand, the company has expanded into new categories that include handbags, eyewear and a new line of men’s and women’s footwear and intimate apparel. New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was recently named global brand ambassador for Joe’s, while model Taylor Hill is the face of Joe’s women’s line.
For the year ending Dec. 31, 2017, Sequential has reiterated guidance of revenue between $170 million to $175 million. Net income on a GAAP basis was guided to between $15.5 million to $18.1 million, mostly due to costs associated with the departure of former ceo Yehuda Shmidman in March. The company also said reaffirmed prior guidance of between $98 million to $102 million of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
C.L. King’s analyst Steven L. Marotta said of the new licensing venture between the Martha Stewart brand and QVC, “This new venture is a critical component to making the current-year EBITDA guidance, which had been a mounting concern among the investor base.”
Since late last year, investors were concerned about Sequential’s debt load and its ability to pay down the debt.
Marotta said the net-debt-to EBITDA estimated ratio for fiscal year 2017 is at “just over 6 times.” While the licensing model can handle larger-than-average debt loads, he noted that “organic growth combined with debt pay-down will reduce this metric in future periods and the opportunity to refinance the debt over the coming year will reduce net interest expense.”
Shares of Sequential rose 12.5 percent to close at $3.69 in Nasdaq trading.