Why Bed Bath & Beyond Got Slammed

Bed Bath & Beyond, underperforming competitors such as Macy's and Williams-Sonoma, got slammed on an earnings miss and lowered guidance.

Jan 10, 2014 at 6:35PM

In general, home-furnishing retailers have had a rather good run over the last year, as increased demand for new homes has naturally increased demand for things to put in them. Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) is one of America's biggest home-furnishing chains, and its stock is up handsomely over the last 12 months as a result of strength in the U.S. housing market.

However, its latest earnings report severely disappointed investors, certainly compared to the most recent results presented by competitors such as Macy's (NYSE:M) and Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM). Is the sell-off justified?

Earnings miss, outlook lowered
Bed Bath & Beyond reported third-quarter earnings of $1.12, representing a healthy 8.7% increase year over year but missing the analyst consensus of $1.14. Net sales were up 6% but also missed the analyst consensus by a hair. The increase in comp-store sales slowed to 1.3% for the quarter, down from 1.7% in the previous year. However, this is probably not what had the shares sinking 8.3% after-hours on Wednesday and more than 12% on Thursday.

Presumably, the lowered guidance is what caused the extreme market reaction. Fourth-quarter earnings estimates were slashed to $1.60-$1.67 from a previously modeled $1.70-$1.77, coming in well below analyst expectations. The full-year earnings-per-share estimate is now in the range of $4.79-$4.86, down from an earlier projection of $4.88-$5.01. Investors were clearly not pleased with the updated outlook.

To be fair, expectations were highly strung for the home-furnishing retailer, following a decent performance earlier in fiscal 2013. Additionally, comparisons with 2012 are tough, as it was a 53-week year, which has affected EPS models as well as the comp-store sales calendar. The company is still in very solid financial shape though, with no debt on the books. As such, it seems as if the sell-off is somewhat overdone.

What Macy's and Williams-Sonoma are doing
Macy's is a competitor in the home-furnishing space, despite being a more diversified retailer, and recently came out with some very encouraging numbers. Same-store sales were up 3.6% in November 2013 and December 2013, beating a 2.7% industry average as calculated by ShopperTrak.

What really blew investors away was the updated guidance. The company now expects EPS of $4.40-$4.50 for the next fiscal year, smashing an analyst consensus of $3.87. Somewhat surprisingly following these strong numbers, the company announced it would be cutting around 2,500 jobs in an effort to cut costs.

A more specialized competitor is Williams-Sonoma, which posted an excellent third-quarter report. Revenue increased by 11.3%, with comparable-brand revenue growing 8.2%. Earnings per share of $0.58 beat the $0.55 consensus estimate and were up an impressive 18.4% year over year.

By brand, West Elm was easily the best-performing division, with brand revenue up 22.2%. Citing these strong results, as well as the company's faith in strong execution going into the last quarter, the company has raised its full-year guidance.

The bottom line
Bed Bath & Beyond missed on the top and bottom lines for its Q3 report, which had investors unimpressed. However, more worrying was the lowered guidance, which has now come in well below analyst expectations. While Bed Bath & Beyond seems to be underperforming the industry, a sell-off of more than 12% may be overdone, as the company does maintain a very strong cash position and is still growing.

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Fool contributor Daniel James has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Bed Bath & Beyond and Williams-Sonoma. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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