Stein Mart Inc. stock is popping 11 percent to $6.37 after the retailer beat earnings estimates on slightly increased sales and announced a new strategy.
Net income for the quarter was $13.7 million, or 30 cents a diluted share, up from $13.6 million, or 29 cents, a year ago. The FactSet estimate was for earnings per share of 28 cents.
Sales for the three months ended April 30 increased 0.6 percent to $355.7 million from $353.5 million a year earlier. Comparable-store sales decreased 3.4 percent due to lower traffic and lower average unit retail. The AUR dropped as the company had a lot of fall merchandise it needed to clear out.
New chief executive officer Dawn Robertson spoke about a new initiative to bring in a younger, more modern customer. “I firmly believe that this expansion of our customer base can have a significant impact on sales,” she said. Robertson added that about 20 percent of the stores would see the new merchandise. They have tested certain markets with new products and brands. She didn’t want to call out vendors, but noted it would roll out in August.
Robertson also said that changing assortments in the northeast stores had been well-received. She said that Stein Mart was improving regionalization for the stores by developing more appropriate assortments for each region.
“We were able to deliver higher first-quarter earnings by maintaining our gross profit rate and controlling expenses on slightly higher total sales driven by our new stores,” said Jay Stein, chairman of the board. “Sales in our existing stores were impacted by decreased traffic and a greater amount of fall clearance that hampered in-season selling.” He did say on the earnings conference call that there had been a small impact on sales in the energy states like Texas, but also noted that the Naples, Fla., store had an impressive store opening.
Gross profit for the quarter was $108.9 million or 30.6 percent of sales, just topping last year’s gross profit of $108.4 million or 30.7 percent of sales.
The company opened 5 new stores in the quarter and expects to open a total of 13 new stores in 2016. Stein Mart also said it will close 2 stores this year.
Looking ahead, the company didn’t give a forecast but Stein did say that he was pleased with inventory levels and the freshness of the spring inventories going into the second quarter. The value of Stein Mart shares has fallen 45 percent for the past year.