Off-price retailer Stein Mart’s comp sales declined in the fourth quarter, although the company continued to improve its operating results.
Net income for the fourth quarter of 2018 was $4.4 million or $0.09 per diluted share compared to a net loss of $0.4 million or $0.01 per diluted share in 2017. Operating income for the fourth quarter was $6.6 million in 2018 compared to $4.1 million in 2017.
Net sales for the 13-week fourth quarter ended February 2 were $340.8 million compared to $384.9 million for the 14-week fourth quarter ended February 3, 2018. Comparable sales for the fourth quarter decreased 3.5% on a shifted basis.
For the full fiscal year, net loss was $6 million or $0.13 per diluted share in 2018 compared to $24.3 million or $0.52 per diluted share in 2017. Operating income for the year was $4.9 million in 2018 compared to an operating loss of $31.2 million in 2017.
Net sales for the 52-week fiscal year ended February 2 were $1.26 billion compared to $1.32 billion for the 53-week fiscal year ended February 3, 2018. Net sales were impacted by comparable sales results, the closing of eight underperforming stores in fiscal 2018, as well as the benefit of a 53rd week in fiscal 2017.
Comparable sales for the 52-week period ended February 2, 2019 decreased 1% on a shifted basis. Comparable sales results for 2018 reflect lower store traffic partially offset by higher average unit retail and digital sales growth of 15% in the fourth quarter and 62% in the fiscal year.
“Fourth quarter results reflect holiday sales that were below our expectations, with traffic impacted by changes we made to our holiday marketing strategy,” said Hunt Hawkins, CEO, Stein Mart. “Despite our lower sales, operating results for fiscal 2018 were significantly better than last year due to our continued focus on inventory productivity, which drove our higher gross profit rate, and strong expense control. As we begin 2019, we will continue to build upon the foundation we have laid. Although early first quarter sales have been slow to start, our new initiatives focused on sales growth give us the opportunity to improve annual results.”