Looking to pass the time on a recent long-distance car voyage, my roommate and I -- as we are wont to do -- were dishing about retail investments. Generally speaking, there are a ton of companies out there that "nobody knows about" but have nevertheless managed to build up impressive bases of sales and revenue. This is all despite relatively low fanfare when compared with, say, the Gaps
And here's a perfect example of one of those overlooked retailers: Christopher & Banks
Boring or not, there was some excitement yesterday. The company's shares fell more than 9% on heavy volume, following the announcement that same-store sales for the four weeks ended May 29 fell 6%. For all of fiscal Q1, "comps" fell 5%, even as store growth helped push revenues up 10% to about $103 million. Now the company is telling investors to expect Q1 earnings per share of $0.26 or $0.27 -- down from last year's $0.29. That EPS figure, meanwhile, may be even more upsetting when you consider that the company bought back more than half a million shares of its stock in May, which boosted EPS without boosting earnings.
The company, one assumes, would like investors to let it write off the last, oh, seven months or so as the culprit of some bad sweater purchases. Sweaters took the blame for slowing same-store sales in the second half of the last fiscal year, and they got more stick from management yesterday. (Must have been a lot of sweaters.)
I haven't looked closely enough at inventory trends to have an opinion at this point, but if you have and you believe the brass, you might want to start watching the shares: The company generates plenty of cash and, it would seem, intends to keep growing (and buying back shares) right on through its wooly weakness.
Spice it up on the Christopher & Banks discussion board.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story.