Sometimes for an investor, there's nothing truer than the old saying that "when it rains, it pours." That's how owners of discount seller Retail Ventures
Just three months ago, the company announced that it had become one of many victims of a string of recent "hack attacks" into retailers' customer credit card databases.
That disaster affected only Retail Ventures' DSW chain, and then not even the whole chain -- hackers obtained data from just 108 of the chain's 170-odd stores. Even so, the theft compromised the credit card information of 1.4 million of the chain's customers, as well as the checking account and driver's license information of nearly 100,000 more.
Yesterday brought some more bad news: First was the earnings release, in which Retail Ventures announced that it experienced a 2.5% year-over-year decline in same-store sales, despite a 5.2% rise in net sales. There were no profits in sight, just as in last year's comparable quarter. But last year, the quarterly loss amounted to just $0.06 per diluted share. This year, the loss ballooned to $0.32.
The second piece of bad news yesterday? The earnings report was immediately followed by a 10% crash in the company's share price.
But wait -- it gets worse. Remember that 5% rise in sales? Well, the quarter's increase in accounts receivable came in 11 times as big -- up 55% year on year. And while the retailer was struggling to get paid for what it did sell, it seems to have had serious difficulties with its selling: Inventories rose 15%. I suppose you could make lemonade out of the lemony-sour news that inventories grew "only" three times as fast as sales -- as opposed to 11 times as fast. Still, there's no denying the bitter aftertaste.
Retail Ventures mercifully excised the rest of its bad news (contained in the missing cash flow statement) from its public press release. But it did admit to the Securities and Exchange Commission, in its simultaneously filed Form 10-Q, that free cash flow took a tumble alongside profits. One year ago, the company generated a modest amount of cash from operations (before spending it all, and more, on capital costs). This quarter, it skipped actually generating the cash and proceeded directly to capital expenditures. In all, the company saw $35.2 million in free cash outflow in Q1.
In theory, excitement is good, but investors could do without this kind of misadventure.
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares in Retail Ventures.