Today, Steve Madden reported net sales decreased 2.3% to $336.4 million, compared to $344.3 million in the same period of 2015, in its fourth quarter that ended December 31, 2016. And although those numbers slipped, gross margin soared by 260 basis points to 38.7% as compared to 36.1%, and operating expenses as a percentage of sales were 27.4% compared to 25.7% of sales in the same period last year.
The mixed results lead Chairman and CEO Edward Rosenfeld to point out that the company is in strong standing, saying in a statement, “We are pleased to have delivered solid earnings results in the fourth quarter, with EPS at the high end of our guidance range, despite a challenging retail environment. While overall sales declined modestly due primarily to softness in our private label footwear and cold weather accessories businesses, we had outstanding top line growth in our core Steve Madden Women’s wholesale business, and we also achieved strong gross margin improvement in both the wholesale footwear and wholesale accessories segments.”
Other positive results were the company’s operating income, which totaled $39.6 million, or 11.8% of net sales, compared with operating income of $38.7 million, or 11.2% of net sales, in the same period of 2015. Net income reached $28.7 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, compared to $25.7 million, or $0.43 per diluted share, in the prior year’s fourth quarter.
The call also covered initial fiscal 2017 sales and EPS guidance, setting expectations for an 8% to 10% increase over net sales in 2016 with diluted EPS expected to be in the range of $2.12 to $2.18.
Rosenfeld added, “As we look ahead, while we are cautious about the overall environment, we are pleased with the momentum in our core business and confident we can drive top and bottom line growth in 2017 and beyond.”