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Shoe Carnival Inc  (NASDAQ:SCVL)
Q3 2018 Earnings Conference Call
Nov. 15, 2018, 4:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good afternoon and welcome to Shoe Carnival's Third Quarter Fiscal 2018 Earnings Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded. It is also being broadcast via webcast. Any reproduction or rebroadcast of any portion of this call is expressly prohibited.

Management's remarks may contain forward-looking statements that involve a number of risk factors. These risk factors could cause the Company's actual results to be materially different from those projected in such statements. Forward-looking statements should be considered in conjunction with discussion of risk factors including in the Company's SEC filings and today's earnings press release. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on those forward-looking statements, which speak only as of today's date. The Company disclaims any obligation to update any of the risk factors or to publicly announce any revisions to the forward-looking statements discussed on today's conference call or contained in today's press release to reflect future events or developments.

I'll now turn the call over to Mr. Cliff Sifford, President and Chief Executive Officer of Shoe Carnival for opening remarks. Mr. Sifford, you may begin.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you and welcome to Shoe Carnival's Third Quarter 2018 Conference Call. Joining me on the call today is Kerry Jackson, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer. On today's call, I'll provide a brief overview of our third quarter operating highlights and sales results, as well as review our updated fiscal 2018 outlook. Kerry will discuss financial results in more detail. Then, we'll open up the call to take your questions.

First, please remember that the 53rd week in fiscal 2017 resulted in a one week shift of our fiscal 2018 calendar. This year's third quarter started -- it ended one week later as compared to the third quarter last year. As a reminder in fiscal 2018, all of our quarterly year-over-year sales comparisons may be impacted, if there are seasonal influences near the respective quarter-end dates. Comparable store sales for the third quarter are presented on a comparable 13-week basis.

Now, I'd like to review our operating performance. We are very pleased to report a 4.5% comparable store sales increase for the third quarter. Our results for the quarter reflect growth across all geographic regions and most major product categories. I was especially pleased with the strong comp store gains in the non-athletic categories. This demonstrates the core strength of our business model, which allows us to flex and react to changing trends in athletic and non-athletic footwear categories.

As you know, August is a key month for the quarter due to the back-to-school selling period. I'm happy to report that August comparable store sales increased 6.5% on top of the 7% increase for the same month last year. In addition to the strong growth achieved in August, we also reported positive comparable store sales for both September and October.

Our team focus on strengthening margins and effectively managing inventory resulted in significant margin expansion. Merchandise margins improved 110 basis points, driven by customer preference for our higher margin seasonal categories. BD&O was up 70 basis points as a percentage of net sales and we deleveraged SG&A by 70 basis points due to the lower current year sales volume, which was a result of the calendar shift.

These results drove a 10.4% decrease in operating income, which, when combined with a 41% decrease in tax expense, produced EPS of $0.76 per diluted share, an increase of 15% compared to third quarter last year.

As we have stated on each conference call this year, due to last year's 53rd week, we have been -- there have been half volume weeks that have shifted from quarter to quarter. I believe the most accurate way to illustrate our robust results during the third quarter is to remind you of what our EPS is year-to-date as compared to last year.

Through the third quarter, operating income has increased 28.6% and net income has increased 61.1%, which generated EPS of $2.36 per diluted share. This translates into a 71% increase in EPS over the first three quarters last year. Traffic for the quarter was basically flat. However, our customer-centric focus drove our conversion rate up by 130 basis points. Average units per transaction were up low-single digits, and average dollars per transaction was flat to last year.

We ended the quarter with inventory up 4.6% on a per-store basis due to the shift in calendar, which moved both the Veterans Day and Black Friday promotions earlier in fiscal November. We remain focused on effective inventory management and expect per-door inventories to be down low-single digits at year-end.

Focusing on our third quarter comparable store sales by department, women's non-athletic increased mid-single digits, driven by the boot and sandal categories. Customers responded to our women's boot assortment and the marketing efforts throughout the quarter, producing a third quarter comparable store sales increase in the 20%s.

The men's non-athletic department was up mid-single digits on a comparable basis. We are pleased with the performance of our men's casual category and the double-digit comp increase in the men's boot category for the quarter.

Children shoes were also up mid-single digits on a comparable basis. Our sales for the quarter were driven by both the athletic and non-athletic categories. Boots and sandals drove double-digit comp increases for the quarter in non-athletic. And on the athletic side of the business, boys produced a mid-single digit comp gain, while girls was up double-digit.

The non-athletic was also up low-single digits on a comparable basis. Men's athletic was flat for the quarter, while women's athletic was up mid-single digits. We continue to be happy with the performance of our running footwear category for both men and women.

Now, I'd like to spend a few minutes to update you on our key initiatives for 2018. We began fiscal 2018 with the possibility of closing 25 stores to 30 stores this year. Our teams in real estate, merchandising, operations and marketing have done a terrific job of improving the metrics of many of those stores to where they are now more productive contributors to our store base. With the improving metrics of those particular locations, we are now able to reduce the number of projected store closures from the range of 25 to 30, to a total of 14. This includes nine that are already closed, and five that are planned to close in the fourth quarter.

We opened three stores at the end of the third quarter. This past weekend, we had our official grand opening celebration in all three new stores, and I am excited about the positive results we experienced at each of the openings. We ended the third quarter with 402 stores in 35 states and Puerto Rico. Our real estate strategy remains conservative as we complete the implementation of our CRM initiative.

I continue to be excited about our CRM strategy. We have already experienced some quick wins, and I expect as we continue to roll this program out, it will be instrumental to driving comparable store sales results and allow us to, once again, grow our store base. This multi-year holistic project will touch almost every aspect of our Company. CRM is a key element in understanding who our customer is and creating a one-to-one relationship with them. Although a large part of the customer data comes through our loyalty program is not just about loyalty. We believe this holistic approach to CRM will give us a clear runway for growing Shoe Carnival now and in the future.

I am very happy with the relaunch and upgrade to our shoe purchase program, which was launched just prior to back-to-school. This new program offers our high value customers, a new tier rewards as design to incentivize them to make Shoe Carnival their store of choice for all their family footwear purchases. I'm thrilled with the way Shoe Perks members have responded to our new program, driving a double-digit increase in member sales for the quarter. This increase in member spending allowed us to welcome over 200,000 new members to Gold status within the quarter.

In order to stay relevant with the changing retail landscape and the ever-evolving consumer, we must continuously improve and innovate. The investments we are making in technology and customer engagement are incredibly important as we take Shoe Carnival to the next level of growth.

Finally, I would like to give you an update on our financial expectations for fiscal 2018. I'm very happy with the performance of our seasonal categories throughout the third quarter. Our customers are excited by our selection of boots and booties, and we continue to see positive results from our kids department in both the athletic and non-athletic categories. The adult athletic categories that drove our athletic sales in the third quarter also continued to perform. We believe that the customer shops us at key time periods, because they trust us to have the right styles and brands in depth at a compelling value.

Weather does become a factor of both positively as it creates a need for weather-proof boots, and negatively if a winter storm occurs during a high volume time period. Based on these factors, we expect comparable store sales for the fiscal year to increase approximately 3.5%. In addition, we expect gross margin for the fiscal year to increase approximately 90 basis points on a GAAP basis versus fiscal year 2017. As a result of this sales and margin guidance, we are raising and tightening our previous earnings per share expectation from a range of $2.05 to $2.15 to a range of $2.36 to $2.38.

That concludes my review. I would now like to turn the call over to Kerry.

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Thank you, Cliff. Our net sales for the third quarter ended November 3rd, 2018, decreased $18.3 million to $269.2 million, compared to the third quarter ended August 28, 2017. Comparable store sales for the 13-week period ended November 3rd, 2018, increased 4.5%, compared to the 13-week period ended November 4, 2017.

The decrease in net sales was primarily due to a decrease of $12 million for stores included in our comparable store sales base, and a loss of $7.6 million in sales from the 26 stores closed since the beginning of the third quarter last year. These decreases were partially offset by an increase of $1.3 million for the 10 stores we have opened since the beginning of the third quarter of last year.

As we previously discussed, due to last year -- fiscal year being a 53-week year, Q1, Q2 and Q3 this year a one week later than last year, the calendar shift moved important week of back-to-school that was included in Q3 last year and a Q2 this year. The net effect of this week shift compared to last year decreased sales in our comparable stores in Q3 this year by $25.1 million. This shift accounts for the full decrease in net sales in Q3 this year compared to Q3 last year.

Our gross profit margin for the quarter was 30.2% compared to 29.8% in the third quarter last year. This increase was driven by a 110 basis point increase in our merchandise margin, partially offset by a 70 basis point increase in buying, distribution and occupancy expenses as a percentage of sales.

SG&A expenses decreased $2.6 million in Q3 to $65.2 million. The decrease in expense was primarily due to a $2.5 million decrease in advertising expenses in existing stores, a $2.2 million decrease in expenses for closed stores and a $911,000 net gain from insurance proceeds related to stores affected by recent hurricanes. These decreases were partially offset by a $4.1 million increase in incentive and equity compensation expense as a result of the improved financial performance of the Company. As a percentage of net sales, these expenses increased 0.7% to 24.3%. The deleveraging of SG&A expenses and a reduction in advertising expense in Q3 were both the result of the shift in sales into Q2. You may recall, we reported a $2.7 million increase in advertising expense in Q2 this year.

The effective income tax rate for the third quarter of fiscal 2018 was 25.9% compared to 40% for the same period last year. For the full fiscal year of 2018, we expect our tax rate to be approximately 24.2%. As a reminder, in December 2017, the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, which reduced our corporate statutory tax rate from 35% to approximately 21%.

Net earnings for the third quarter of fiscal 2018 were $12 million or $0.76 per diluted share. For the third quarter of fiscal 2017, we reported net earnings of $10.7 million or $0.66 per diluted share.

Now, turning to information affecting cash flow. In Q3 this year we repurchased under our share repurchase program approximately 519,000 shares of our common stock at a total cost of $20 million. For the first three quarters of this year, we repurchased 1.3 million shares at a total cost of $39 million. We have not projected in our updated annual guidance any repurchases in Q4, and now expect our diluted weighted average shares outstanding for the fiscal year to be approximately 15.5 million shares. This is a decrease of about 200,000 shares from our previous guidance. We currently have $11 million available under our $50 million share repurchase authorization.

Depreciation expense in Q3 was $5.3 million. Depreciation expense is projected to be approximately $21 million for the full fiscal year. Capital expenditures for fiscal 2018, including actual expenditures through the third quarter, are expected to be approximately $10 million with a little more than half to be used for new stores, relocations and remodels. Lease incentives are anticipated be approximately $900,000 for the year.

My final comment today will be on sales for the fourth quarter. Implicits in our annual sales guidance is the expectation of our Q4 sales to range from $225 million to $227 million. This compares with Q4 sales last year at $243.2 million. We expect the decline in sales is due to a $15 million reduction due to one less week of sales in Q4 this year, and an estimated $5.8 million reduction in sales from stores that have closed. Partially offset by sales increases from an expected comparable store sales increase and sales from new stores.

This concludes our financial review. Now, I'd like to open up the call for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) The first question will come from Mitch Kummetz with Pivotal Research. Please go ahead with your question.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Yes. Thanks for taking my questions. Cliff, let me begin on boots. I was hoping you could just elaborate on the performance in the quarter. What was the overall boot comp in the quarter? Can you maybe say how sort of booties performed versus weather boots versus fur versus however, as you kind of classify the various boot sub-segments? And then I'm also curious kind of how you have boots planned for the fourth quarter.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, we plan boots for the season up mid-singles -- mid-to-low singles. But we had a double-digit in the 20%s increase in women's boots for the quarter. So very pleased with that. Mitch, to be honest, we really don't want to get down the category. I can tell you that weather boots, what we would classify as weather boots, snow kind of boots, they only sell -- really only take off when you have inclement weather. So it was more casual boots in nature and not really like to hold it at that.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Got it. Fair enough. And then, Kerry, on the merch margin improvement, can you just -- how much of the 110 bps was mix shift to boots, which is a high margin category for you guys versus just overall cleaner inventory? Is there any way you can kind of breakout the 110 bps? And I'm curious what your -- what kind of merch margins baked into the guide for the fourth quarter.

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

We had planned on our merchandise margin being up for the quarter. Where we overachieved our expectations was in the boot margin itself. So that comp increase that we guide in the boot that Cliff was just referring to, that was the primary driver of the gross profit improvement, if you're still on boots in October, you're getting a much better price than if you sold later in the fourth quarter.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

I'll add to that, if I can, Mitch, that not only we have an increase in the 20%s in women's boots, but we have double-digit increases in men's boots and in kids boots, so very high margin. So that really helped drive the overall margin up.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Got it. And then maybe last question also for Kerry. I think you said that in the quarter incentive comp was up $4.1 million year-over-year. Can you say, sort of, where incentive comp, how much it will be or how much you think it will be up for the year? And I know it's little early to talk about 2019, but is it sort of fair to assume given how well you guys are sort of outperforming this year, that you will be planning incentive comp down year-over-year in 2019?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

I'll start with your last first. Yes, highly likely. What we have this year and particularly the third quarter, the number was much larger than we had originally anticipated. What happened was during the quarter a set of restrict -- performance-based restricted stock that we did not think was going to vest, because of our strong performance so far this year, particularly in the third quarter, had now came into play. And the way the accounting works on that, you have to catch up that adjustment to-date. So we had a little over $2 million adjustment of the total $4 million, was just getting that one grant turned on so to say. Another almost $1 million of that was other performance stock that was based on a range of outcomes. And since our outcomes are higher in the range, we picked up almost $1 million worth of expense for that. So the fourth quarter adjustment was very high by those two events.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Got it. All right. Thanks, guys. Good luck.

Operator

Thank you for the question. The next question will come from Chris Svezia with Wedbush. Please go ahead with your question.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Good afternoon, gentlemen and congratulations on the quarter. Nice job.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Chris.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Boots, just remind me what -- so two things. One, you planned it up mid-single digits, so thereabout, you're running stronger than that. What's your ability to kind of adjacent to that category and how do we think about it, fourth quarter versus third quarter percentage of the business? Does it flat from 10%-ish in Q3, 20% in Q4, just any thoughts about that?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

It would be the mid-20%s to the total and -- women's boots to the total for -- total women's, I think, I'm right on that. Total boots will be in the mid-20%s. Sorry, we got a little confused here. But now for the first part of your question, are we able to get back in, we were able to get back into a few boots, but the good news in all of that is that, we will be clean at the end of the fiscal year.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. So just go back to, when you say mid-20%s, that's for Q4, what is it in Q3?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

This past year is just under about -- is right around 8% of the total.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay.

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

They just mostly diluted in the third quarter because of athletics and back-to-school.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. Got it. What was the comp progression as you came through the quarter? We know what August was, but can you tell what September and October were?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

They were up low-single digits.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. And remind us again what you're up against to go into Q4, November, December, January, last year which you did?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

For the quarter we were down 0.5 point.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

If you remember, Chris, last year we closed on Thanksgiving Day, which took a big number out of our fourth quarter. We made most of that back up during the quarter. So perhaps (ph) down is a little misleading because of the one day that we decided not to open.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. So November last year was down quite a bit because you decided not to open, and then you made it out December, January, correct?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Quite a bit maybe an overstatement, but directionally, you're correct. It was down to low-singles and we were relatively flat in December and then we were up in January.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. And this year to keep closed on Thanksgiving, so you're comping the comp, right?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Sorry, we didn't hear that.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

I said this year you're closed on Thanksgiving, so you're comping that.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

That is correct.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. Got it. Okay. Just on the margin, Kerry, just for you, for Q4, how do we think about -- I know, Cliff, you gave the annual, I think, up 90 basis points. How we think about just Q4 between merchandise margin, occupancy cost, deleverage, just some of the puts and takes and you got store closing cost and liquidations going on, just lot of moving parts. Maybe any color about how we think about those two line items, gross margin, SG&A for Q4?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Well, from the merchandise margin standpoint, we expect it to be down on a year-over-year basis in our guidance at the high end. And the primary reason is because if you remember last year in the fourth quarter, we booked a $3.3 million gain on the insurance settlement on the Puerto Rico inventory hurricane loss. So on a GAAP basis, it will be down. We expect to be --

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

On a non-GAAP basis -- do you expect it to be up on a non-GAAP basis, because I think most of us are looking at as non-GAAP?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Chris, there are such strict rules surrounding non-GAAP. If I discuss that, we have to put out additional reports. I'd say we're giving you a bogey of the GAAP number. So once you refer back to our Q4 release last year, that will help you discern against an adjusted number.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. And on the SG&A?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

(technical difficulty) standpoint, we expect to be relatively flat to slightly down.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

And SG&A?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

We should see some leverage on that here again. The GAAP number was distorted last year because of an impairment charge, I believe, of about $3.3 million and we also had -- because of the change in the tax laws, we had to accelerate some equity compensation of about $2 million.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. Final thing, just real quick for me, just when you think about your consumer and your consumer demographic, how does maybe the macro backdrop play into that given consumer sentiment, unemployment, minimum wage, payrolls et cetera, just any thoughts about how you think some of that might be playing into how your consumers purchasing?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Chris, we believe it has a lot to do with that. I mean, we can almost go back to the tax cuts when two weeks after the tax cuts took effect, which would have been pretty much your first paycheck is when we began to see our business take off. And it's been, as you have witnessed, been pretty good all year.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. All the best. Congrats. And we'll talk to you soon.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Thanks, Chris.

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) We'll take our next question from Greg Pendy with Sidoti. Please go ahead.

Greg Pendy -- Sidoti -- Analyst

Hi. It's Greg Pendy at Sidoti. Thanks for taking my question. Just wanted to understand, I guess, the guidance on the inventory at year-end, you said low-single digits. Is there anything we should know -- I mean, was there any moving parts last year, is that mainly less seasonal product, do you think at this year end or is there something with store closures? I just wanted to understand if you're up 4.6% per store now?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

The 4.6% is misleading, because of the shift in week. With presence -- not presence, my best estimate (ph) moved up a full week and Thanksgiving has never -- I can't think of a time it's been this early in the calendar, now because the first of the month happened to be on a Thursday. So it's as early as it can get. So that product had to come in prior to November in order for us to have it on the floor and available to sell. So I wouldn't get too hung up on the inventory levels at the end of October. The decrease in inventory at the end of year is really most likely threefold.

One is we continue to reduce our per-store inventories in order to maximize our turn in the stores at the -- if you can maximize your turn, you can raise your margin and that is the overall goal. But the second in that is that we will have less seasonal inventory as we come out of January due to the fact that we are over-performing in boots and -- actually outperforming in the most seasonal category. So we expect to have less seasonal product on the floor as we walk out of January. And third, Easter is a little later this year than it was last year, so you don't have to bring as much Easter product in, in January to have it on the floor in time for Easter.

Greg Pendy -- Sidoti -- Analyst

That's helpful. And then just one final one. This is just -- it looks like you trimmed your store closing or your net closings again this year. I know you've been in the past talking about looking for more attractive leases, but you're also seeing better operating performance. So can you kind of give us kind of the puts and takes on what's bringing it down? Is this purely operational or are you finding more attractive lease opportunities as well or is it a combination?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

The combination of all the above. The tax cut helped our business get better, that's number one; and in off-stores it lifted sales in most stores, that's number one. Number two, we were able to negotiate some better deals with landlords. And number three, we've done, in my opinion, a much better job marketing this year with, actually I got to say four ways; marketing to our customer because we understand today better who our customer is than we did a year ago or two years ago through our CRM program, and some of the things that we are learning about are customer segments and who they are, and how they shop, and how best to talk to them. So that's been helpful. And lastly, as our stores have been very focused -- very, very focused on making sure that our conversion rate continues to rise; in fact, for the third quarter, our conversion rate was up 130 basis points, which is -- that falls on two -- that falls on merchandise, and that falls on our store operators.

Greg Pendy -- Sidoti -- Analyst

That's helpful. Thanks a lot.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. The next question comes from Sam Poser with Susquehanna. Please go ahead.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

Good afternoon and thanks for taking my questions. I've got a few. Number one, I'm going to reask the question about, can you give us more details on the comp in September-October then -- of those, just so we can -- you gave us one, why not give us all three? We're greedy.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

We give you back-to-school -- we give you August, because it's such an important month to our overall year, that is a key month. So we give that. I really don't have a --

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

September-October, up low-single digits of (technical difficulty)

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

Hello?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Kerry answered that; both September and October.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

So when we look at the fourth quarter, had your comparisons were easier last year on both a one-year and a two-year basis, the implication is for a low-single digit comp. Why wouldn't the comp be better given the trend or is this restricted by sort of the availability of the seasonal product now?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, twofold; one is that we want to make sure that we remain conservative in our sales guidance, because again it's early in the quarter, Sam. And you don't know what the weather is going to be, a good -- cold front, snow cold front moving through the weaker Christmas could destroy the quarter. So -- not destroy it, could hurt the quarter. But we're going to remain conservative in our sales guidance and we'll see how it goes.

As far as the seasonal product is concerned, we are going to be short going into January. There is no question in my mind about that. I believe we're in good shape, leading into Christmas.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

Thank you. And then lastly, you've lowered your store closings, but when we look forward, are we looking at a more conservative store closing, are you going to start -- how do you think about beyond from a store opening and closing perspective beyond this year, given the work you've done with the CRM and so on, that's starting to help turn around some of those businesses and those, which were up more underperforming stores?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

We are, right now, we think that we will close a store somewhere in the low-to-mid teens. We are still continuing to work on those, that's the reason I didn't talk about it on the call today. We have hope that we can lower that number. So we'll be a little more forthcoming on that as we get to our fourth quarter call. That's number one. Number two, at this point in time there are no new stores scheduled for 2019. We're looking toward 2020 as -- once we get our CRM initiative launched and we have a great understanding of who our customer is and where they live, at that point, we will be sending our real estate team out onsite.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

Thank you very much and continued success.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

All right. Thanks.

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Thanks, Sam.

Operator

Thank you. The next question will come from Mitch Kummetz with Pivotal Research. Please go ahead.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Yeah. I just had a couple of quick follow-ups. I think, you guys said something about Black Friday promotion shifting from Q4 to Q3. Just given the timing of when the quarter close, could you just elaborate on that? And -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

What I said was that last year Black Friday was the fourth week of November, this year, it's the third week of November.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Okay. Got it.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

That's key when you talk about inventory levels.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Got it. Okay. It seems early for you guys to be doing Black Friday promotions in Q3. And then on the impact of closing the stores, Kerry, I think you said there was a $2.2 million benefit in the quarter. As we think about Q4, I would imagine you would also see a benefit in Q4 from the stores that you closed last year, but then you're also going to have some negative on the gross margins, I guess, from the stores that you're liquidating. So how do we sort of think of those things balancing out, I don't know if that's a way to look at it?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

What you are referencing is that our SG&A was a (technical difficulty) third quarter this year versus last third quarter, because of the closed stores. I don't look there's a benefit, because we also lost the sales and we also lost the margin. Typically, when we're closing a store, especially when we have to liquidate the inventory, we take a hit on a year-over-year basis, particularly in the quarter it closes. So on the next year benefit, you would see a little bit of a rebound. However, we projected to close 14 stores this year. Cliff just mentioned, we're going to be in that range generally for next year. So on a year-over-year basis, you might assume about the same amount of store closing costs.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Okay. And then, I guess, maybe one last one. I mean, you guys obviously, you over-delivered on the earning side this quarter, especially relative to consensus. But I don't think you guys really gave an earnings target on a quarter. I mean, how did you sort of over-deliver relative to your internal plan? I don't know if you can speak to that. I mean, the comp kind of came in at the high end, but I'm just kind of curious either from an EBIT standpoint or from an earnings standpoint how much better did you guys come in, than what you saw, was it similar to the beat on it in terms of consensus or --

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Well, you're talking about the Q3 beat against what we thought.

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Yes.

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

We had some guidance out there. Generally, we overachieved the two base factors where we overachieved our previous guidance almost $4 million on the topline and we had about 65 basis points of margin improvement over what we had previously guided to. We also -- our SG&A came in a little lower than what we were expecting, and that was probably to be more related to the insurance gain that we booked to the quarter, had not been a contemplated buyer (ph).

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Got it. All right. Thanks, again.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you for the question. We have a follow-up question Chris Svezia with Wedbush. Please go ahead with your question.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Yeah. Thanks for taking my follow-up. So just I want to go back, I think the third quarter, when you gave the guidance that you expected September to be up low-singles, but October to comp negative, just kind of given what happened last year and the uncertainty with the weather. So it seems like obviously October was the big factor to driving the upside to comp, is that correct?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Yes. So that was the biggest change from our guidance, overachievement from our guidance we had.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

And that was all based on the boot performance, Chris.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Right, OK. So I know you don't want -- as we look at Q4, any reason to think any month would comp negative? I know you thew out the observation, you might be short some boot inventory for January, but I don't -- I'm sure by then you want to be transitioning out anyway, but I'm just kind of curious what's your thoughts about, as we think about monthly comp or just looking forward any reason to think any month wouldn't comp positive?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

No, we don't -- we're not planning any month, sort of, comp positive. We don't expect January to comp as -- we expect January to be the lowest comp due to the fact that we will be lower on boots.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Okay. Got it. And then just, I'm curious on the CRM activities. When do you expect to be done on that, on that front? When do we get more of an update about what's your learning, just in general, when is that completed?

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, the implementation of the software that's going to drive this, will be at least mid year 2019 before it's fully implemented. We expect to have wins throughout that time period. But, Chris, it's important to understand that this is not a one year or a two-year program. This is going to be something that will continue to evolve over the next -- hopefully for a long, long time, because we believe that's transformation to our Company and what it's going to do for us from a comp and store growth standpoint.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

And then, thank you. And then last thing I just have, just when you close stores, the sales transfer to existing stores, any color about what's going on with that? I guess, my question more specifically, as we start to think about next year and you're not opening stores, but you're closing obviously stores, if we think about low-single digit comp, any reason to think that revenues would not grow? I mean you should have some revenue growth assuming the base is coming more productive as you transfer those sales. Just any thoughts about that.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

We do expect revenue growth. We are not prepared yet to give you a 2019 -- our 2019 expectations at this point, but we do expect revenue growth.

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

First on the cannibalization question you had, typically we are not -- when we put the stores in place to begin with, we try to give them enough breathing room, so that they're not cannibalizing each other. So what happens when we close that store, more often than not, we're not seeing significant movement of sales to other stores, not enough that would drive the needle that we'd be reporting it or you might see it flow through in our overall numbers.

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Interesting. Okay. All right. That's all I have. Thank you very much, guys. Appreciate it.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Chris.

Operator

Thank you. The next question will come from Sam Poser with Susquehanna.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

We're all getting twice today. The insurance, was that a one-time event in the SG&A and how much was it?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

It was $911,000 in Q3. It's a one-time occurrence as that particular episode. So that was primarily closing out the Puerto Rico claim for the hurricane that occurred last year. We closed out the inventory portion of it in Q4 last year and then we finished up the fixed asset piece of it this year.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

But did you have a (multiple speakers) for that this year or was this it?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

This was it. Typically, (inaudible) inventory and fixed assets and they closeout at different times.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

So we wouldn't anticipate that benefit a year from now, just to be clear?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Not for that particular hurricane, no.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

And do you have other -- are there other recurring or those kind of charges happening from other events we're talking about?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

No, but hurricane seems be, these past few years, not isolated events that -- so we've seen a several hurricanes. So we were -- we've had insurance claims on Puerto Rico, on Houston and then we saw -- we're working on one right now for the hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

Are any of that going to -- do you expect any of those to be of the magnitude of Puerto Rico? And then lastly, what -- are there -- as well as what is the status of Puerto Rico stores right now?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

No, Puerto Rico was a nine-store event and we lost inventory in all of those stores. So that was a -- the largest claim the Company had ever had and we hope to never repeat that. So there is a new thing of that magnitude that we'd expect to see again.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

And then the Puerto Rican stores, are the stores open, how many are open in Puerto Rico right now?

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Yeah, six of the nine stores have reopened. Three of them will not reopen. We settled out the lease. The one lease event we sold out in the fourth quarter last year and the other two stores, the landlord did not rebuild the center. So those leases were canceled due to that.

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

Thank you very much.

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

You're welcome.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. This concludes the Q&A portion. I'll now turn the call back over to Mr. Sifford.

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for participating on our call. We look forward to announcing our fourth quarter and full-year results in March. Also want to wish each of you a great Thanksgiving and a very happy holiday season. With that, I want to send the call back to the operator.

Operator

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. This concludes today's event. You may now disconnect your lines. Have a great evening.

Duration: 43 minutes

Call participants:

Cliff Sifford -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Kerry Jackson -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Mitch Kummetz -- Pivotal Research -- Analyst

Chris Svezia -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Greg Pendy -- Sidoti -- Analyst

Sam Poser -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

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