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NEW ORLEANS, March 11, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Stewart Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEI) reported today its results for the first quarter of 2013. Earnings from continuing operations were $15.5 million compared to $8.8 million for the first quarter of 2012. On a diluted per share basis for the three months ended January 31, 2013, the Company reported earnings from continuing operations of $.18 and adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $.15 per share, compared to $.10 per share for reported and adjusted earnings per share for the same period of last year.
Three Months Ended January 31,
Net earnings from continuing operations
Adjusted earnings from continuing operations (1)
(1) 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, "For the first quarter of 2013, we generated the highest quarterly net earnings and earnings per share in more than 10 years. We are particularly pleased with the balance we achieved between our funeral and cemetery segments. Our funeral businesses turned in a superb performance during the first quarter of 2013, highlighted by a more than 8 percent increase in same-store funeral services. While we believe deaths in our markets increased period-over-period, our increase in funeral services is particularly strong compared to industry-wide data and is the third consecutive quarter of increased funeral services. This improvement in services contributed to an 8.5 percent improvement in funeral revenue, a 14 percent improvement in funeral gross profit and a 140 basis point improvement in funeral gross profit margin. We are also very pleased with the strong performance of our cemetery segment, where we generated a 9 percent increase in cemetery revenue, a 63 percent improvement in cemetery gross profit and a 620 basis point improvement in cemetery gross margin. We have started fiscal 2013 strong by growing first quarter revenue and profitability and continuing the positive momentum we generated during fiscal year 2012. Some highlights of the first quarter of 2013 compared to the prior year include:
Improving same-store funeral services by 8.4 percent, resulting in the third consecutive quarter of increased funeral services;
Generating a 9 percent increase in revenue, a 27 percent increase in gross profit, a 76 percent increase in earnings from continuing operations and an 80 percent increase in earnings per share;
Increasing cemetery gross profit by 63 percent and funeral gross profit by 14 percent, while expanding cemetery gross profit margin by 620 basis points and funeral gross profit margin by 140 basis points;
Realizing a 24 percent improvement in adjusted EBITDA to $32.5 million or a 24 percent adjusted EBITDA margin, as discussed in the table "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures;"
Producing total returns for the first three months of fiscal year 2013 of 4.5 percent in our preneed trusts and 3.8 percent in our cemetery perpetual care trusts; and
Generating operating cash flow of $11.9 million, an improvement of $4.1 million, and free cash flow of $6.8 million, an improvement of $3.0 million."
Mr. Kitchen concluded, "Our balance sheet and liquidity remain strong with $78 million in cash and marketable securities on hand and no amounts borrowed on our $150 million credit facility. Overall, we are very pleased to report these strong operating and financial results for the first quarter. We believe these strong results demonstrate the power of leverage in our business and the importance of continuing to effectively manage our costs. We produced a 9 percent improvement in total revenue, which led to a 27 percent improvement in total gross profit and an 80 percent increase in earnings per share compared to the same period of last year. By continuing to execute our strategic plan and maintaining our focus on employees and customers, we are well positioned to deliver stable, sustainable results over the long-term."