NEW ORLEANS, LA, December 17, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Stewart Enterprises, Inc. (NasdaqGS:STEI) reported today its results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended October 31, 2012. Earnings from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2012 were $9.1 million compared to $8.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 and $37.5 million for fiscal year 2012 compared to $39.3 million for fiscal year 2011. Fiscal year 2011 results included an after-tax benefit of $7.5 million from the Company's successful settlement of Hurricane Katrina litigation. On a diluted per share basis for the three and twelve months ended October 31, 2012, the Company reported earnings from continuing operations of $.11 and $.43 per share and adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $.12 and $.46 per share, respectively.
|Three Months Ended October 31,||Twelve Months Ended October 31,|
|millions||per share||millions||per share||millions||per share||millions||per share|
|Net earnings (1)||$ 9.0||$ .11||$ 8.5||$ .10||$ 35.9||$ .41||$ 38.6||$ .42|
|Net earnings from continuing operations (1)||$ 9.1||$ .11||$ 8.8||$ .10||$ 37.5||$ .43||$ 39.3||$ .43|
|Adjusted earnings from continuing operations (2)||$ 10.1||$ .12||$ 8.4||$ .09||$ 40.2||$ .46||$ 35.6||$ .39|
|(1) The year ended October 31, 2011 included a $12.4 million ($7.5 million after tax, or $.08 per diluted share) recovery related to the settlement of the Hurricane Katrina litigation.|
|(2) See table "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures" for additional information on adjusted earnings and adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations.|
Thomas M. Kitchen, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We finished fiscal year 2012 with an exceptional fourth quarter, continuing the positive momentum we generated during the fiscal year. The fourth quarter is the third consecutive period with year-over-year improvements in many of our key metrics including total revenue, gross profit and adjusted earnings. For the fourth quarter of 2012, we increased adjusted earnings per share by 33 percent and same-store funeral services by 2.2 percent. In addition, we expanded our gross profit margin by 270 basis points, producing the highest fourth quarter gross profit margin in six years. For the year, we improved adjusted earnings per share by 18 percent. These improvements were driven by a $3 million increase in revenue and a $9 million increase in gross profit, which reflects the highest annual revenue and gross profit in four years. Some additional highlights of fiscal year 2012 compared to the prior year include:
- Increasing cemetery gross profit by 20 percent and funeral gross profit by 4 percent, while expanding cemetery gross profit margin by 250 basis points and funeral gross profit margin by 100 basis points;
- Producing total annual returns of 11 percent in our preneed trusts and 13 percent in our perpetual care trusts;
- Experiencing the highest annual cemetery property and preneed funeral production in five years;
- Improving cemetery cremation sales by 15 percent while investing approximately $8 million in our new cremation inventory development projects;
- Realizing a 7 percent improvement in adjusted EBITDA to $109.6 million, as discussed in the table "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures;"
- Purchasing 4 million shares of the Company's outstanding Class A common stock, including 1 million repurchased in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 3.5 percent decrease in total shares outstanding in fiscal year 2012;
- Announcing a 14 percent increase in the Company's annual dividend to $.16 per share and returning $13.3 million in dividends to our shareholders; and
- Generating operating cash flow of $76.5 million and free cash flow of $61.4 million. As of October 31, 2012, the Company had more than $78 million of cash and marketable securities with no amounts borrowed on our $150 million credit facility."
Mr. Kitchen concluded, "During the fiscal year, we successfully integrated our operations and sales organizational structures to better serve customers and families. In addition, we have prudently managed our expenses and continuously evaluated our costs, resulting in expanded margins. We believe the changes we have made this fiscal year are significant and will benefit the Company for years to come."