NEW YORK — Rising sales and better margins drove Chico’s FAS Inc. to double-digit gains for the first quarter.
The Fort Myers, Fla.-based specialty company reported on Thursday that for the three months ended May 1 it had a 52.6 percent rise in earnings to $35.7 million, or 40 cents a diluted share, outpacing Wall Street’s consensus estimate by 1 cent. During the same period a year ago, the company reported earnings of $23.4 million, or 27 cents a share.
Sales for the period increased 52 percent to $256.8 million from $169 million, putting the company on track to reach its goal of $1 billion in sales for the year. Comparable-store sales were up 20.1 percent.
“We continue to be pleased with the White House/Black Market brand’s solid sales and gross margin results,” Scott Edmonds, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are continuing our initiatives aimed at reducing the cost structure within the White House/Black Market stores and their back office overhead.”
Chico’s completed its acquisition of White House/Black Market in September 2003.
Total company store sales rose 53.9 percent to $248.5 million from $161.4 million, thanks in large part to White House/Black Market. Catalogue and Internet sales increased 7 percent to $6.1 million from $5.7 million. The company also had a 19.4 percent gain on sales to franchisees, to $2.2 million from $1.9 million.
General, administrative and operating expenses ballooned by $33.5 million to $95.8 million during the quarter, resulting from the addition of the White House/Black Market stores. However, SG&A expenses increased marginally to 37.3 percent of sales, compared with 36.9 percent of sales in the year-ago period.
— Ross Tucker