What: Shares of Chico's FAS (CHS -5.51%) jumped more 14% Thursday after the women's clothing retailer reported stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter 2015 results.
So what: Quarterly revenue fell 4.5% year over year to $627.4 million, driven by a combination of a 3.2% comparable-sales decline and a drop in Boston Proper sales. The former included a 1.7% decline at Chico's, a 7.4% decline at White House Black Market, and a 2.1% comparable-store sales increase at Soma. On the bottom line, that translated to adjusted net income of $6.2 million, down from $10.9 million in the same year-ago period, and a 28.6% decline in adjusted net income per share to $0.05.
Analysts, on average, were anticipating a breakeven quarter on lower revenue of $626.1 million.
"While we are disappointed with our fourth quarter sales," explained Chico's CEO Shelly Broader, "we are pleased that our responsiveness and disciplined inventory management in this intensely promotional environment allowed us to achieve positive gross margin leverage and a slight decline in total inventories over last year. Additionally, our business generated significant cash flow during the fiscal year, which in combination with our healthy balance sheet, allowed us to return $334 million to our shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases."
Now what: For the full-year 2016 excluding Boston Proper for comparability purposes, Chico's expects flat to slightly negative comparable sales "with more opportunity for positive growth in the back half of the year." At the same time, Chico's anticipates opening roughly 25 stores, while closing another 50 stores in its efforts to push forward capital allocation and cost reduction initiatives.
While I'm not personally eager to pick up shares of Chico given its stagnant growth, this was a solid showing from the company as it works to improve profitability. As a result, it's no surprise the market was willing to bid up Chico stock today.
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