Shares of apparel retailer Burlington Coat Factory
How does a company increase net income nearly seven times over while revenue improves "only" 13%? Mostly, to put it simply, by minding the store. Lowered shrinkage expense -- "shrinkage" is inventory kept on the books but also lost because of theft or error -- added $8 million to operating income. Better cost management added another $8 million. Real estate sales were good for nearly $4 million more. Gross margins improved, meanwhile, and same-store sales were up nearly 4%.
All in all, Burlington's quarter looked pretty darn good. (Unfortunately, we can't go into as much detail as we'd like because the company didn't put a balance sheet or cash flow statement in its press release.) It would seem that business can only get better for the company, too. A prolonged economic recovery and run of job growth would only increase demand for its suits, ties, and other office-friendly gear.
One knock on Burlington is that it doesn't churn out free cash flow, but that's understandable given the capital required to grow a national retailer. As long as it keeps expanding -- it opened 24 stores over the last 12 months, relocated nine and closed eight, bringing its total to 349 nationally -- and demonstrating the ability to improve operations and margins, long-term investors in Burlington needn't fear the cold.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any companies in this story.