Weather, Weak Traffic Impact Bon-Ton Q4

For the fourth quarter ended January 28, The Bon-Ton Stores posted net income of $44.7 million, or $2.09 per diluted share, versus $50.6 million, or $2.42 per diluted share, in the comparable quarter the previous year.

Earnings per diluted share fell short of a MarketBeat published analyst average estimate by 37 cents.

Fourth quarter 2016 net income included non-cash asset impairment charges of $16.7 million, or 78 cents per diluted share. For the quarter in fiscal 2015, diluted earnings as stated included severance costs of 19 cents per diluted share, costs associated with debt extinguishment of six cents per diluted share, non-cash asset impairment charges of 15 cents per diluted share and a benefit related to an insurance settlement of three cents per diluted share.

Comparable store sales decreased 4.7%, the company said.

Net sales were $877.3 million while total revenue was $900 million versus net sales of $927.9 million and total revenue of $950.4 million in the quarter the prior year. Income from operations was $62 million versus $67 million in the year-prior period, Bon-Ton said.

For the full fiscal year, The Bon-Ton Stores posted a net loss of $63.4 million, or $3.18 per diluted share, versus a net loss of $57.1 million, or $2.90 per diluted share, in the previous year. Comparable store sales decreased 3.8%.

Net sales were $2.6 billion while total revenue was $2.67 billion versus net sales of $2.72 billion and total revenue of $2.79 billion in the year before. Income from operations was $2.6 million versus $9.8 million in the prior year, Bon-Ton noted.

In announcing the financial results, Kathryn Bufano, Bon-Ton president and CEO, said, “While the continued weak traffic trends and unseasonably warm weather pressured sales in the fourth quarter, we expanded gross margin by 145 basis points and grew adjusted EBITDA by 8%. In addition, we exceeded our cost reduction goal by $7 million, with net savings of $31 million for the year. We also made progress on a number of initiatives designed to differentiate our stores within the retail landscape. As part of this, we believe we further solidified our position as the hometown shopping destination with an emphasis on our localization strategy which included the introduction of our Close to Home product assortment. In addition, we continued to focus on our omnichannel strategy, with sales once again growing in the double digits. Finally, we grew our base of loyal private label credit card users and launched our new Love Style Rewards loyalty program to great response.”

She said Bon-Ton was well-positioned for the remainder of 2017 “as we continue to build on these strategic priorities and drive the business forward. As we look ahead, we will remain focused on capitalizing on our omnichannel business, refining our marketing strategies and further evolving our merchandise assortment, with even greater emphasis on growth categories and localization. Finally, we will remain disciplined in our inventory management and will once again focus on further reducing our costs throughout the year.”