The Talbots (TLB) Q4 2011 Earnings Call April 16, 2012 4:30 pm ET Executives Julie Lorigan - Senior Vice President of Investor and Media Relations Trudy F. Sullivan - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director Michael Scarpa - Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Treasurer Analysts Jennifer M. Davis - Lazard Capital Markets LLC, Research Division Adrienne Tennant - Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, Research Division Betty Y. Chen - Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division Alex J. Fuhrman - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division Dana Telsey Michelle Tan - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division Carla White Presentation Operator
With that, I would like to turn it now over to Trudy.Trudy F. Sullivan Thank you, Julie. Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining us. In a moment, I will discuss Talbots, Inc. results for the 13-week and 52-week periods ended January 28, 2012, and provide a brief update on our key strategic initiatives. Mike will cover our financial results in greater detail and provide comments on the first quarter 2012. After that, I will make some closing comments and open the call up for questions. Before we begin the business review, I'd like to comment on the timing of our earnings release and 10-K filing. Earlier this year, as part of the SEC standard comment letter process, we received an SEC comment letter relating to our 2010 Form 10-K and other periodic reports. While this was a normal review, the process takes time to work through and to clear all comments. The accounting matters under discussion principally focused on our identification of reporting units and on our operating and reportable segments. We understand that the timing was not perfect, but we wanted to complete this comment letter process before we filed our 10-K and issued our year-end earnings release, which we did on our 10-K filing date of last Thursday, April 12. No accounting changes were made as a result of this review process. We also wanted to give our shareholders and the investment community time to digest all of the information prior to the call and therefore, schedule the call for today. The comment letter and related responses from the company will be made publicly available by the SEC at some future date this year, as is customary. As indicated in our release Thursday, our Board of Directors continues to evaluate a full range of strategic alternatives, although our Board has not set a definitive timetable for the completion of its evaluation and we have stated there can be no assurance of any transaction as a result of the board's review. They continue to work diligently.
We do not intend to discuss the status of the evaluation process or provide interim updates, and we will not be taking any questions on this process. We appreciate your ongoing support and understanding.With that, I will proceed with the business review. For the fourth quarter, we reported a net sales decline of 1.1% and adjusted loss per share from continuing operations of $0.52. During the quarter, we continued with an aggressive promotional strategy and a challenging environment. This resulted in sequential improvement in both customer traffic and sales trends relative to the third quarter, but at the expense of gross margin. Traffic increased 12.3% in the fourth quarter, a significant improvement from the third quarter decline. We also drove strong conversions, which were up 5.5%, however, offset by a 14.2% decrease in dollars per transaction. More importantly, we were able to clear through excess inventory to better position ourselves for spring. For the fourth quarter, our buyer file size increased approximately 6% from the prior year. On a trailing 12-month basis, our customer file increased 1%, with growth coming from reactivated and new customers. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com