York, PA—The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. reported today a lower fourth quarter profit and wider fiscal year loss, but the department store company’s earnings still beat analysts’ estimates.
For the quarter ended Feb. 2, the parent company of Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman and other department stores said net income was down 4.9% to $74.4 million, or $3.72 a share compared with $78.2 million, or $4 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts’ average estimate expected $3.57 a share.
Net sales increased 3.2% to $1.02 billion just missing analysts’ estimate for $1.04 billion. Comparable store sales edged up 1%.
Gross margin widened to 36.2% compared with 34.6% fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. Operating income increased $14.9 million to $95.3 million, compared with $80.5 million in the fourth quarter 2011.
‘Sequentially Improved Business Each Quarter’ in 2012
“We were pleased with our fourth quarter results and our accomplishments throughout 2012,” said Brendan Hoffman, president/ceo. “We sequentially improved the business each quarter through a number of key initiatives, including a better balanced merchandise assortment, more disciplined inventory management, enhanced marketing efforts and upgrades to our e-commerce business.”
For the full fiscal 2012, the company reported a loss of $21.6 million, or $1.16 a share, compared with a loss of $12.1 million, or 67 cents a share, in fiscal 2011.
Total 2012 total sales increased 1.2% to $2,92 million, compared with $2,88 in the previous year. Annual comparable store sales increased 0.5%.
“We believe we laid the foundation in 2012, which we intend to enhance with new strategies, paving the way for sustainable long-term growth,” Hoffman said.
Bon-Ton Stores said it expects its fiscal 2013 earnings (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) will be in the range of $180 million to $200 million, or 40 cents to $1 a share. Comparable store sales are expected to rise 2% to 3.5% with gross margin at 36% to 36.4%.
Analysts’ consensus expects Bon-Ton to report fiscal 2013 profit of 83 cents a share.
(Editor’s note: For more about Bon-Ton Stores, its overall growth and its accessories business, be sure to check out our feature story, “Bon-Ton at 115! America’s Hometown Retailer Strikes Back with a Digital Initiative and Brand Boost,” on page 10 of Accessories magazine’s March 2013 issue.