What: Shares of surf-and-skate apparel retailer Zumiez (ZUMZ 2.43%) fell off a cliff last year, losing 61%, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. As the chart below shows, the stock fell over nearly the whole year as overexpansion seemed to lead to falling comparable sales.
So what: Many of its fellow apparel retailers had a rough year, but Zumiez's was especially bad as its earnings reports went from bad to worse.
The trouble started on April 9, when the company said March comparable sales grew 5.5% below estimates. As a result, the high-valued stock fell 5%. By the time its first quarter rolled around in June, the stock had already fallen below $30, and tanked another 19% after its second-quarter outlook was much weaker than expected. Zumiez lowered its forecast to $0.12-$0.15, well below the $0.30 per share analysts were expecting.
Finally, the stock got killed in September when the second-quarter report came out, falling 32% after another round of ugly guidance. Comparable sales fell 4.5% in the quarter, always a bad sign, as management blamed merchandising issues and a promotional environment for the setback. For the third quarter, Zumiez forecast earnings of just $0.27-$0.31, well below expectations of $0.53. Monthly comparable sales continued to be in the red during the fall as the stock remained stuck in the $15 range.
Despite a 7.3% drop in comparable sales in the third quarter, the stock began moving higher after that report came out.
Now what: With the new year underway, Zumiez has already gotten a shot in the arm as the stock jumped 12% in after-hours trading on Jan. 6, after it lifted its fourth-quarter outlook to EPS of $0.45 to $0.47 from $0.40 to $0.46. The announcement came despite sales falling 6.3% in December. If anything, the news shows how dire Zumiez's performance has become, and that it may be finally turning the corner, at least with respect to Wall Street's expectations. If the company can manage to get revenue to stabilize, the stock should move steadily higher.