For the quarter ended Nov. 2, the owner of Boston Store, Younker’s, Bon-Ton, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman and Herberger’s posted a loss of $931,000, or 5 cents a share, compared with a loss of $9.8 million, or 55 cents, in the third quarter 2012. Analysts’ average estimate predicted a loss of 29 cents a share.
Net revenue was down 2.6% to $651.2 million below analysts’ estimate for $674.78 million in sales. Comparable store sales also were down 2.8%.
“We saw meaningful improvement in our comparable-store sales toward the end of the quarter,” Brendan Hoffman, president/ceo, said. “Additionally, due to strategic inventory reductions, we ended the quarter down approximately 5% on a comparable-store basis. Strong performances in a number of key merchandise categories where we increased our investment lead us to believe that we are on track with our strategic initiatives.”
Hoffman noted that the company’s e-commerce business is growing at a healthy pace, “benefiting from traffic-driving initiatives and our broader merchandise assortment.”
In the third quarter, gross margin decreased $6.3 million to $238.2 million. Gross margin was flat to third quarter 2012 at 36.6%.
Selling, general and administrative decreased $9.6 million to $215.2 million. The expense rate decreased to 33% of net sales, compared with 33.6% of net sales in the third quarter last year.
Hoffman said Bon-Ton is “looking forward to the holiday selling season with a fresh and inspired merchandise assortment that offers our customers quality and value in an exciting shopping environment.”
Bon-Ton also reaffirmed its full year fiscal forecast for earnings in the range of 15 cents to 75 a share. Analysts project annual earnings of 46 cents.