Shoe Carnival (NASDAQ: SCVL ) results may have been as boring as waiting in line at the Circus, but its outlook is much better. Following the positive results of competitors Brown Shoe Company (NYSE: BWS ) , DSW (NYSE: DSW ) , and Footlocker (NYSE: FL ) , it may be time to take a peek under Shoe Carnival's tent and prepare for future acts that may promise a good show.
Shoe Carnival results
Shoe Carnival reported third-quarter earnings on Dec. 2. The numbers weren't terrible, but nothing to do acrobatics over. Net sales slipped 3.5% to $235.8 million. Same-store sales inched up 0.7%. Net earnings dropped 10.7% to $10.9 million or $0.54 per share. Part of the reason for the weakness was the shift in the calendar for the back-to-school period that occurred in the second quarter and not the usual third quarter this year compared to last year. For the shoe industry, the back-to-school period is the seasonally strongest period. This means the comparable year-over-year results aren't going to be as relevant.
More importantly, Shoe Carnival had guided for earnings per share of $0.51 to $0.55, so the results came in toward the upper end of the range. CEO Cliff Sifford noted that the government shutdown hurt its results somewhat. October saw a rebound with much stronger same-store sales growth in the mid-single digits. For November, the pace picked up a lot more with same-store sales coming in with an astonishing 7.8% increase.
Sifford credited part of the reason for the improvement was due to double-digit growth in boot sales associated with the cold weather. What Sifford is really excited about, which he brought up during the Q&A session of the conference call, is the "loyalty base" of the company's loyalty program. Shoe Carnival set a goal of doubling the base this year, and the company accomplished that plus 50% more ahead of schedule. His goal for 2014 is to double it again. He stated that this loyalty program is really working to drive people in the stores which makes him very excited about the growth opportunities from this marketing program for the fourth quarter, 2014, and beyond.
Shoe Carnival is guiding for fourth-quarter sales increase of 4% to 6.9% to $215 to $219 million. The company expects adjusted earnings per share to increase from between 12.5% to 37.5% to between $0.18 to $0.22. Those growth numbers, if hit, would be quite impressive compared to the third quarter.
Stacking up against Brown Shoe Company, DSW, and Foot Locker
Brown Shoe Company certainly performed better though its fiscal calendar didn't have the same disadvantage that Shoe Carnival had in terms of comparisons. Net sales edged up 1% to $702.8 million. Net earnings lifted 12.4% to $27.3 million or $0.63 per share. Its back-to-school same-store sales showed solid 5.6% gains. Like Shoe Carnival, Brown Shoe Company raised its guidance, and the company is looking for $0.09 to $0.13 earnings per share for the fourth quarter.
DSW reported record profits with its third quarter despite a 0.7% drop in same-store sales. The record profits resulted from the successful opening of several new stores throughout the year and quarter. Sales popped 6.8% to $633 million. Adjusted earnings per share rose 14% to $0.58.
Foot Locker continued the positive trend of the other shoe companies with its report. Foot Locker saw sales increase 6.4% to $1.622 billion. Same-store sales had a healthy 4.1% increase. Foot Locker has an optimistic outlook and is calling for improved results over " the next several quarters."
Foolish final thoughts
Shoe Carnival's numbers weren't exciting on the face of them, but the explanations were reasonable. The company was able to back up an optimistic forward outlook by using hard data including the October and November sales momentum. As judging by Brown Shoe Company, DSW, and Footlocker, the shoe industry continues to be strong for all players. Foolish investors should take a closer look at Shoe Carnival based on the outlook.
Shoes for life
It's no secret that investors tend to be impatient with the market, but the best investment strategy is to buy shares in solid businesses and keep them for the long term. In the special free report, "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich," The Motley Fool shares investment ideas and strategies that could help you build wealth for years to come. Click here to grab your free copy today.