Stage Stores Inc. saw its net loss widen in the third quarter, as well as a decline in net sales for the period.

This story first appeared in the November 22, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For the three months, the loss was $11 million, or 34 cents a diluted share, from a loss of $8.9 million, or 28 cents, a year ago. On an adjusted basis for both periods, the diluted earnings-per-share loss was 26 cents compared with 25 cents last year. Net sales were down 2.8 percent to $360.2 million from $370.6 million, with comps down 4.6 percent.

Michael Glazer, president and chief executive officer, told Wall Street analysts on a conference call, “We dramatically impacted our top line with lower clearance sales this year versus last year. In order to clean up our inventory last year, our new merchant team took an extremely aggressive approach, which generated extensive markdowns.”

 

He said the top three categories for the quarter were cosmetics, accessories and footwear, noting that handbags drove the accessories business. Positives in the women’s businesses include leather trim and sportswear and dresses. Glazer said that given the compressed holiday season and expectations for a “very promotional” period, the comps range for the fourth quarter is expected to be down 2 percent to flat.

Given comps guidance for the fourth quarter and one-time charges in connection with the consolidation of its South Hill operations into the Houston headquarters, Stage projected adjusted EPS guidance for fiscal year 2013 at between $1.20 to $1.30 from its prior forecast of $1.30 to $1.40.

 

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