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Talbots Reports Improved First Quarter Fiscal 2012 Results

The Talbots, Inc. (NYSE:TLB) today reported results for the quarter ended April 28, 2012, with an increase in both operating income and adjusted operating income compared to the prior year period. The Company also commented on key initiatives and actions.

First quarter income from continuing operations was $1.2 million, or $0.02 per share, compared to last year’s income from continuing operations of $0.9 million, or $0.01 per share.

Adjusted first quarter income from continuing operations was $6.0 million, or $0.09 per share, excluding special items of $4.8 million, or $0.07 per share, compared to last year’s adjusted income from continuing operations of $5.3 million, or $0.08 per share.

A full reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP (“adjusted”) items is included with this release.

Trudy F. Sullivan, Talbots President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are pleased to have achieved profitability in the first quarter, driven by improved merchandise margin compared to the prior year period as well as strong inventory and expense management. Overall, we continue to focus on further enhancing our product, re-engaging with our core customer and executing our key strategic initiatives as the Board continues to actively explore a full range of strategic alternatives.”

First Quarter 2012 Operating Results

  • Operating income was $5.6 million, compared to prior year’s operating income of $3.2 million.
  • Adjusted operating income, excluding special items of $4.8 million, was $10.5 million, an increase of $2.9 million, compared to prior year’s adjusted operating income of $7.6 million.
  • Net sales decreased 8.4% to $275.9 million, compared to $301.3 million in the same period last year, due in part to the impact of store closings in fiscal 2011 as a result of the Company’s store rationalization plan.
  • Consolidated comparable sales, which includes stores, Internet, catalog and red-line sales, decreased 3.8% compared to the prior year. Consolidated comparable sales exclude stores closed or scheduled to close under the Company’s store rationalization plan.
  • Store sales decreased 9.1% to $218.9 million, compared to $240.8 million in the same period last year. Comparable store sales decreased 2.2% in the first quarter of 2012, and exclude stores closed or scheduled to close under the Company’s store rationalization plan.
  • Direct marketing sales, including Internet, catalog and red-line, decreased 5.8% in the quarter to $57.0 million, compared to $60.5 million in the same period last year.
  • Cost of sales, buying and occupancy as a percent of net sales decreased 90 basis points to 63.5%, compared to 64.4% last year. This decrease was due in part to a 60 basis point improvement in merchandise margin resulting from lower levels of markdowns. Additionally, buying and occupancy as a percent of net sales leveraged 30 basis points.
  • Selling, general & administrative (SG&A) expenses as a percent of net sales increased 500 basis points to 33.6% compared to the prior year. On a dollar basis SG&A decreased $7.2 million from the prior year period to $92.6 million, and included a total of $2.5 million in net expense obligations in connection with executive search and legal and advisory fees associated with the Company’s exploration of strategic alternatives. Additionally, SG&A expenses were impacted by estimated incremental performance-based compensation for which no comparable compensation was recorded in the same period of the prior year.
  • Total inventory decreased 6.2% to $166.2 million, compared to $177.1 million in the same period last year, due to a planned decrease in spring receipts.
  • Total outstanding debt was $197.9 million, an increase of $111.1 million compared to $86.8 million last year. Total outstanding debt includes $122.9 million under the Company’s revolving credit facility and $75.0 million under its term loan, entered into on February 16, 2012.
  • In the first quarter, the Company opened four Talbots upscale outlets, closed five Talbots stores and ended the period with 516 stores, or 540 locations, including 47 Talbots upscale outlet stores.

Key Initiatives Update

Store Rationalization Plan

The Company closed eight locations, including five full stores, during the first quarter of fiscal 2012 and has closed 90 locations in total, including 74 full stores, since the acceleration of the Company’s store rationalization plan in March 2011. The Company continues to expect to close approximately 110 locations in total and will look to close additional stores opportunistically in 2012.

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