Stage Stores, Inc. (NYSE:SSI) today reported net income for the fourth quarter ended January 28, 2012 of $32.7 million versus $32.0 million for the prior year fourth quarter ended January 29, 2011. Diluted earnings per share for the quarter increased 22% to $1.05 this year from $0.86 last year.
Commenting on the Company’s fourth quarter results, Andy Hall, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are pleased that we met our sales expectations for the fourth quarter; however, despite a 22% increase in earnings per share, we fell short of our bottom-line goal. Our results are a reflection of the highly promotional business environment that was prevalent throughout the quarter. We increased our promotional activities in an effort to respond to our customers needs and to maintain our inventories at an appropriate level. Our heightened promotional activities, coupled with our inability to pass through most of the fall cost increases, negatively impacted our merchandise margins and led to an 80 basis point decline in the gross profit rate. Importantly, we were able to control our SG&A expenses, and achieved a 40 basis point drop in the SG&A rate while operating 27 more stores versus last year.”
For the 2011 fiscal year, the Company reported net income of $31.0 million, or $0.92 per diluted share, versus $37.6 million, or $0.99 per diluted share, for the 2010 fiscal year.
Commenting on the Company’s full year results, Mr Hall stated, “2011 was more promotional than anticipated and, similar to the fourth quarter, this environment negatively impacted our merchandise margins and led to the lower results for the year. We are pleased with the result of our expense focus, as the SG&A rate was 50 basis points lower than last year. We are also pleased with our year end inventory level and content. We ended 2011 with a 1.7% increase in comparable store inventory.”