bebe stores, inc. (NASDAQ:BEBE) today announced unaudited financial results for the second quarter ended December 31, 2011. In the second fiscal quarter of the prior year, the Company closed its remaining 25 PH8 stores, with the entire PH8 division results being presented as discontinued operations for all periods herein.
Net sales from continuing operations for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 were $152.0 million, up 11.6% from $136.2 million reported for the second quarter a year ago. As previously reported, comparable store sales for the quarter ended December 31, 2011 were 9.6% compared to flat in the prior year.
Gross margin from continuing operations as a percentage of net sales increased to 40.1% in the second quarter of fiscal 2012, compared to 37.1% in the second quarter of fiscal 2011. The increase in gross margin as a percentage of net sales from the prior year of 3.0% was primarily due to an increase in merchandise margin, coupled with positive occupancy leverage, offset by an increase in reserves and write offs. The increase in merchandise margin was fueled by lower markdowns, partially offset by the growth of 2b and international wholesale sales which were at a lower merchandise margin.
SG&A expenses from continuing operations for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 were $49.9 million, or 32.8% of net sales, compared to $48.0 million, or 35.3% of net sales for the same period of the prior year. The dollar increase over the prior year was primarily due to higher compensation expenses, partially offset by insurance proceeds combined with lower impairment and store closure costs.The effective tax rate for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 was 40.9% compared to 41.4% in the second quarter of fiscal 2011. Operating income from continuing operations for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 was $11.0 million or 7.2% of net sales, compared to $2.5 million or 1.8% of net sales for the same period of the prior year. During the quarter the Company had net earnings from continuing operations of $6.6 million or $0.08 per share on 84.3 million diluted shares outstanding compared to $1.6 million or $0.02 per share on 84.1 million diluted shares outstanding for the same period of the prior year.
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