Warmer weather hurts sales at Jos A Bank
The company is left with higher inventories of outerwear, but is seeing improved spring traffic.
Shares of men's clothing company Jos A Bank Clothiers (JOSB) were slumping again Friday, two days after reporting a disappointing fourth quarter.
The stock tumbled some 10% after news of the quarter, and was trading Friday at $50.44. Before the quarterly report Wednesday, shares had been close to $55.
Margins are falling at the clothing chain. It met expectations on profit, which rose 8% to $1.58 a share, but missed on sales for the quarter. Revenue rose 9% to $346.3 million, but still couldn't meet the $353.4 million analysts wanted to see. The company blamed a milder winter that adversely impacted outerwear and cold-weather merchandise sales in the fourth quarter.
Lower winter sales pushed up inventory levels to the mid-20% range. But most of the items are perennial in terms of style, the company said, and will not require liquidation. Jos A Bank expects an inventory level of 15% to 20% at year's end. As cost inflation continues at an estimated 7%, the company expects higher inventories to contribute slightly to gross margins.
The picture for the full year was brighter. Profit jumped 13.6% to $97.5 million. On a per-share basis, earnings of $3.49 beat expectations for $3.47. Full-year sales rose 14.2% to a record $979.9 million, but were far below analyst estimates of $1.09 billion. Same-store sales rose 7.6% for the year and direct-marketing sales increased 14.7%.
Higher promotions were mainly responsible for the spike in sales, aided by increased store traffic. But those markdowns took a toll on margins, bringing them 50 basis points down from a year earlier. In 2010, margins grew by 130 basis points. Rising costs for cotton, wool and other materials also hurt margins last year.
While winter sales suffered from the warmer weather, spring sales are already in full bloom. CEO E. Neal Black noted that spring clothing sales have picked up significantly, in contrast with weak spring sale trends last year. With Easter being closer this year, the company expected this period to be a test of how sales would turn out.
The company is branching into new categories, including tuxedo rentals, custom clothing for larger sizes and slimmer-cut suits and shirts. It's also seeking future growth through store expansion and a strengthened online business, which currently has a database of 3.2 million active customers.
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