Those unlucky enough to have watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will recall a creepy character called Leatherface. He was the masked villain who brought horror films to a whole new level. But there's more than one way to be frightening.
Consider WilsonsThe Leather Experts
Revenues for its first quarter declined 13.7% to $84.3 million. However, the company points out that last year's sales figures included $20.8 million as part of a liquidation. Minus this, its sales actually were up 9.8% compared with the same period a year ago.
Comparable same-store sales were up significantly by 15.8%, compared with a decline of 2.8% a year ago. This figure is particularly promising, as the comps from the first period of fiscal 2004 do not include revenues from the 111 liquidated stores. This means that Wilsons is using an apples-to-apples comparison, and that's perhaps an indication that the company is burying the horrific sales of its past.
Wilsons attributed increased sales in the latest quarter to its NASCAR line of merchandise and abnormally colder weather. For a second, I expected the company to highlight off-the-chart sales of super-tight leather slacks as the source of the rebound. Who says you have to be Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil to sport (or squeeze into) black leather pants?
The improving sales environment at Wilsons resulted in a net loss of $0.10 per share. This compares favorably with the $0.61 (adjusted to exclude the loss associated with the 111 store closings) net loss per share in its year-ago period.
Are its scary Leatherface days finally over? Wilsons appears to be gaining some sales traction, but investors will want to see a series of successes before getting too excited. As its sales improve, it will certainly help that the company has closed down many of its failing units. Perhaps this is a new, slimmed-down Wilsons, looking to ditch its red-stained butcher's apron and groove back in black -- on its income sheet, or in tight pants.