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Designer Brands Reduces Dividend to Preserve Liquidity

By Jon Quast - Mar 17, 2020 at 9:15AM

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And now that it's closing retail locations, it's not issuing guidance for 2020.

Before the markets opened on March 17, Designer Brands (DBI -2.10%) reported its results for 2019. Full-year net sales grew 10%, even though fourth-quarter net sales fell 1% year over year. The company also recorded $94.4 million in net income for 2019, a stark improvement from its $20.4 million net loss in 2018. However, for Q4 it reported a net loss of $7.6 million.

Yet these top- line and bottom-line numbers aren't what investors care about right now. As evidenced by the stock's stunning 40% drop the day before, Designer Brands' shareholders are curious about the company's guidance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a store, a banner displays Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Image source: Designer Brands.

The coronavirus impact

Designer Brands finally gave its shareholders an update on what to expect in the context of the coronavirus. At the end of the day on March 17, the company will close all of its retail locations in North America. However, all is not lost. Its warehouses will remain open so it can continue fulfilling e-commerce orders. 

Of course, it's unreasonable to assume that e-commerce can fully sustain any consumer-discretionary retail company like Designer Brands; undoubtedly, revenue and profitability will be affected going forward. But the company didn't give specific guidance for 2020, noting the situation is constantly changing.

However, Designer Brands did choose to reduce its quarterly dividend payout from $0.25 per share to $0.10 per share in an effort to preserve liquidity. It noted its belief that the balance sheet is strong with $115 million in cash and investments compared to $190 million in debt, but given the uncertainty still opted to reduce the payout to better whether this storm. 

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