Investors were pleased with Francesca’s Holdings Corp.’s third-quarter results, which easily beat Wall Street’s consensus estimate for both EPS and revenues.
For the quarter ended Oct. 29, net income jumped 39.5 percent to $9.7 million, or 26 cents a diluted share, from net income of $7 million, or 16 cents, in the year-ago period. Net sales gained 15.2 percent to $119.5 million from $103.7 million, while comparable-store sales rose 7 percent. The company said the comps increase was driven by the rise in transactions at both boutiques and online. E-commerce comp sales rose 47 percent to $5.7 million, driven by an increase in web traffic and conversion rate. The company also added 50 net new boutiques since the prior-year quarter.
Wall Street was expecting EPS of 18 cents on revenues of $116.5 million.
Shares of Francesca’s were up 9.8 percent to $17.06 shortly after the equity markets opened the session for trading Tuesday, and by 10:50 a.m., had shot up 20.3 percent to $18.70 in Nasdaq trading.
Steve Lawrence, president and chief executive officer, said, “Our strong performance was the result of a 7 percent comparable sales increase as well as better-than-expected gross profit margin and operating margin.”
Further, Lawrence said that the company had a good start to the quarter, with a successful back-to-school season and the strong trends continuing into September and October.
“Looking ahead, we will continue to execute on our strategic initiatives and believe we are well-positioned for a successful holiday season and beyond,” the ceo said.
The company said gross profit in the period rose to 48.2 percent from 46.6 percent, attributable to 40 basis point of higher merchandise margin and 120 basis points of occupancy costs leverage.
For the fourth quarter ending Jan. 28, 2017, the company is expecting diluted EPS in the range of 33 cents to 37 cents, with net sales between $143 million to $148 million. It is projecting comps to be in the low single digit decrease to low single digit increase, compared with an increase in the year ago quarter of 11 percent.
For the full year ending Jan. 28, 2017, the company is guiding diluted EPS in the range of $1.03 to $1.07, on revenues forecasted at between $484 million to $489 million. The prior fiscal 2016 guidance was at 96 cents to $1.03. The updated guidance includes a 3-cent a share benefit connected with the resignation of the company’s former chairman, president and ceo, Michael W. Barnes. He resigned in May. Lawrence became ceo in September.
In the conference call to Wall Street analysts, Lawrence said some of the initiatives the company will be focused on include developing a deeper connection with shoppers through more intensive customer research; continued investment in e-commerce, such as improving navigation around mobile; refining its real estate strategy with a focus on boutique remodels; inventory logistics improvement and building differentiated assortments, as well as “creating scarcity in our boutiques which compels our guest to buying now” since they can’t find these items online or in another store.
He called out dresses and shoes as category standouts in the quarter, noting that its jewelry business also did well. “Accessories continue to be an underperformer again this quarter, primarily driven by a soft [scarcity] business. But we are starting to see an uptick in the handbag category,” Lawrence said.