Williams-Sonoma's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Williams-Sonoma (WSM)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

March 08, 2012 10:00 am ET


Stephen C. Nelson - Vice President of Investor Relations

Laura J. Alber - Chief Executive Officer, President, Director and Member of Incentive Award Committee

Julie Whalen -


Budd Bugatch - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Colin McGranahan - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

Matthew J. Fassler - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Brian W. Nagel - Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Research Division

Joseph I. Feldman - Telsey Advisory Group LLC

Neely J.N. Tamminga - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division

Matthew McGinley - ISI Group Inc., Research Division

Helen Pan - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Christine Rapalje

Anthony C. Chukumba - BB&T Capital Markets, Research Division

Scot Ciccarelli - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Jason Campbell - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Peter S. Benedict - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Kate McShane - Citigroup Inc, Research Division



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2011 Earnings and Fiscal Year 2012 Guidance Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] This conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to Steve Nelson, Vice President of Investor Relations, to discuss non-GAAP measures and forward-looking statements.

Stephen C. Nelson

Good morning. This morning's conference call should be considered in conjunction with the press releases that we issued earlier today.

Our press releases and this call contain non-GAAP financial measures that exclude the impact of unusual business events. These non-GAAP financial measures are provided to facilitate meaningful year-over-year comparisons. A reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures, and an explanation of why these non-GAAP financial measures are useful, are discussed in Exhibit 1 and elsewhere in the earnings release.

The forward-looking statements included in this morning's call constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements address the financial condition, results of operations, business initiatives, guidance, growth plans and prospects of the company in 2012 and beyond and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements. Please refer to the company's current press releases and SEC filings for more information on these risks and uncertainties. The company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date of this call.

I will now turn the conference over to Laura Alber, our President and Chief Executive Office -- Officer, to discuss our fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011 results and our outlook for 2011 -- for 2012.

Laura J. Alber

Good morning, and thank you for joining us. With me today are Pat Connolly, our Chief Marketing Officer; and Julie Whalen, our Acting Chief Financial Officer. I'll begin by going over our fourth quarter results.

Fourth quarter net revenues increased 6% and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share increased 8% to a record $1.17 per share. Throughout the quarter, the strength of our merchandising strategies and flexibility of our multi-channel operating model drove increased sales and profits despite a more promotional environment during the holiday period. Post holiday, we saw a progressively stronger retail environment, and through highly effective marketing and stronger-than-expected operational execution, we exceeded our revised January guidance on both the top and bottom lines. During the quarter, comparable brand revenues increased 7% and e-commerce revenues increased a better-than-expected 18%. Strong product assortments, including an increased gift assortment in each of our brands, were enhanced by highly targeted promotions and e-marketing initiatives in all channels.

In our home furnishings business, total fourth quarter comparable brand revenues increased a robust 12%, including 35% growth in West Elm; 11% growth in Pottery Barn; 6% growth in Pottery Barn Kids; and 1% growth in PBteen. In Williams-Sonoma, comparable brand revenues declined 2.3% due in part to a 60 basis point impact from planned SKU reductions in the Williams-Sonoma Home business. Excluding that impact, Williams-Sonoma comparable brand revenues declined 1.7%.

I would now like to review our full year results. Fiscal 2011 was a year of record earnings for Williams-Sonoma, Inc. It was a year where we saw increases in revenues and profitability and it was a year where we budgeted for and executed key elements of our long-term strategy to be the leading multi-channel retailer of home furnishings and housewares in the world. Through strong execution and a superior multi-channel strategy, we delivered record earnings and profitability in an unusually promotional retail environment, never losing sight of our mission to enhance our customers' lives at home. And as a result, we also continue to gain market share in the highly fragmented home furnishing segment.

For the year, net revenues increased a better-than-expected 6%. Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share increased 15% to a record $2.24 per share and non-GAAP operating margin climbed 50 basis points to a record 10.3%. We ended the year with $503 million in cash after returning $263 million to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends and investing more than $25 million in the acquisition of Rejuvenation. During the year, we increased our dividend twice, for a total increase of 47%, and we announced share repurchases of $350 million.

Comparable brand revenues increased 7%, with all brands delivering positive growth for the year, including Williams-Sonoma once we exclude the impact of planned SKU reductions in Williams-Sonoma Home. E-commerce revenues for the year increased a better-than-expected 18%, driving direct-to-customer revenues to 44% of total company revenues versus 41% last year.

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