Although I don't need them, when I think contact lenses, I think 1-800 CONTACTS
The company issued a press release detailing its fourth-quarter results yesterday that did little to change my mind. Revenue grew a scant 4%, coming in at $57.7 million. The net loss widened significantly to $20.1 million ($1.50 per diluted share) versus last year's loss of $2.3 million ($0.17 per diluted share). There was an $18.5 million non-cash impairment charge, as well as a $1 million restructuring charge, both related to the ClearLab asset; backing those elements out, 1-800 CONTACTS saw losses of $0.04 per diluted share for the quarter and $0.22 per diluted share for the full year.
As you can see, without those charges, the quarter looked good on a bottom-line level, as the company reduced the flow of red ink on its bottom line. The top-line growth, though, is pretty weak. The full year saw a similar slow rate of appreciation, so we can't look there for help. In other bad news, gross margins for the U.S. retail business decreased, and the company is unsure as to when it will finally be rid of its dragging ClearLab operations.
In perhaps better news, 1-800 CONTACTS has a new supply strategy in place. As Rich Smith noted in his Foolish Forecast, the company fought a legislative battle against forcing consumers to get certain lenses directly from their doctors rather than giving them the choice of buying them elsewhere. 1-800 CONTACTS decided that a better plan of attack was to make deals with the four biggest lens manufacturers so that the company would have access to 98% of the soft contact lens market. These manufacturers include Bausch & Lomb
However, it isn't encouraging enough for me to want to buy the stock. A look at the latest 10-Q shows that net cash from operations decreased 21% for the last three quarters; in addition, free cash flow continues to remain challenged. The losses might be narrowing, and revenue growth will most likely benefit from the new access to the soft contact lens market, but I'd still approach the stock with a wait-and-see attitude.
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 16,197 out of 23,901 investors in the Motley Fool CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.