Chico’s Shares Rise Despite Missing Profit and Sales Expectations

Andrew Klips  |

Chico’s FAS Inc. (CHS) released its second-quarter results that came up short of Wall Street estimates Wednesday morning, but shares rose sharply from 52-week lows on record sales (thanks to more stores).  Chico’s is a retailer of women’s clothing and accessories under its namesake brand as well as White House/Black Market, Soma Intimates, and Boston Proper.

For the quarter ended August 3, Chico’s reported net sales of $649.5 million, up 1.2 percent from $641.7 million in the year prior quarter.  Net income was $43.6 million, or 27 cents per share, down from $53.4 million, or 32 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2012.  In the first quarter, profits also fell from the year prior quarter.

Analysts were expecting earnings per share of 32 cents on revenue of $677 million.

Total sales were boosted by the company adding 112 net new stores, representing an increase in square footage of 8.8 percent.  Comparable store sales, which are more closely watched as a growth gauge because they eliminate the impact of opening or closing stores, fell by 2.6 percent.  Less shoppers and a lower dollar amount per transaction were attributed for the decline.

Gross margin narrowed by 160 basis points to 54.8 percent.

Meanwhile, selling, general and administrative costs increased from $276.1 million last year to $286.3 million as the company spent more on promotions to try and drive traffic in a tough retail environment.

Sales at Chico’s/Soma Intimates, the largest contributor to total sales, were essentially flat year-over-year at $414.7 million.  White House/Black Market sales improved from $194.5 million to $205.1 million.  Sales at Boston Proper locations slumped from $32.6 million to $29.7 million.

During the quarter, Fort Myers, Florida-based Chico’s bought-back 1.4 million shares for an aggregate amount of $25 million as part of a $300-million repurchase plan announced in February.

Three days ago, Insider Monkey reported that 19 of the 525 hedge funds that they track were holding long positions in Chico’s at the end of the second quarter.  That was down by 30 percent from the previous quarter.

Despite the earnings whiff, shares of CHS have jumped ahead by more than 6 percent in early morning trading to $16.30.  Shares hit a 52-week low on Tuesday at $15.27.  Even with the morning gains, shares are off by about 11 percent so far in 2013.

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