Chico's FAS' CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results- Earnings Call Transcript

Chico’s FAS Inc. (CHS)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 22, 2012 8:30 am ET

Executives

David Dyer – President, Chief Executive Officer

Pamela Knous – Chief Financial Officer

Todd Vogensen – Vice President, Investor Relations

Analysts

Adrienne Tennant – Janney Capital Markets

Robin Murchison – SunTrust

Neely Tamminga – Piper Jaffray

Dana Telsey – Telsey Advisory Group

Betty Chen – Wedbush Securities

Paul Alexander – Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Samantha Shapiro – Stifel Nicolaus

Margaret Whitfield – Sterne Agee

Jennifer Black – Jennifer Black & Associates

Marni Shapiro – The Retail Tracker

Brian Tunick – JP Morgan

Presentation

Operator

Good morning and welcome to Chico’s FAS Inc.’s Second Quarter Sales and Earnings conference call. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. Should you need assistance, please signal a conference specialist by pressing the star key followed by zero. A brief question and answer session will follow the formal presentation.

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Todd Vogensen. Mr. Vogensen, you may begin.

Todd Vogensen

Thank you Valerie, and good morning everyone. Welcome to the Chico’s FAS Second Quarter Earnings conference call and webcast. David Dyer, CEO and Pam Knous, CFO are here with me at our national store support center in Fort Myers.

Before Dave begins his executive overview, we would like to remind you that our discussion this morning includes forward-looking statements which are subject to and protected by the Safe Harbor statement found in our SEC filings and in today’s earnings release. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of factors and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. The Company does not undertake to publicly update or revise its forward-looking statements even if experience or future changes make it clear that projected results expressed or implied by such statements will not be realized.

And with that, I will turn it over to Dave.

David Dyer

Great. Thanks Todd and good morning everyone. I’m delighted to announce our terrific second quarter results. We delivered record second quarter sales and the highest second quarter earnings per share in the Company’s history. All in all, we beat our expectations for the quarter. Earnings per share – up 28% on top of a 47% increase last year. Comparable sales – up 5.6% for a two-year stack of 18.4%. Gross margin – up 30 basis points on top of 40 basis points last year. SG&A – leverage of 60 basis points on top of 190 basis point leverage last year, and inventories down 6%, excluding Boston Proper.

Our unique trend right merchandise and innovative marketing drove significant achievements in the second quarter, including a double-digit increase in new customers, a higher penetration of full-price sales, and increases in both average dollar sales and transactions. These results demonstrate superb team execution. We delivered another quarter of strong growth in 2012 against our toughest quarterly comparison from last year in a much more challenging economic environment.

After adding up the record results for both first and second quarters, I’m pleased to see that we’re updating our planning assumptions for fiscal 2012, which Pam will review with you shortly.

Today with these consolidated results as a backdrop, I’d like to take just a few minutes to highlights our successes by brand. Let’s start with Chico’s Soma. Comparable sales performance increased 7.2% on top of 11.9% last year for one of the industry’s leading two-year stacks of 19%. Turning to Chico’s, we’re clearly winning with color, print and pattern. Our compelling trend right merchandise drove strong sales and gross margin conversion as we successfully cycled last year’s results. Despite this year’s more promotional competitive environment, Chico’s experienced strong full-price selling.

This trend right product also drove exceptional new store performance. Chico’s has opened 13 new stores this year, including six outlets, and overall we’re meeting or beating our sales expectations. Product-wise, I will add that we’re very excited about the sale potential of our So Slimming technology introduced last fall. Our So Slimming jeans have been such a huge success that we’ve already expanded the So Slimming line to additional bottoms in our fall collections. Congratulations to Cindy Murray and her team for this great quarter.

White House Black Market’s momentum continued in the second quarter with a 2.3% comparable sales increase on top of a 14.9% last year, for at two-year stack of 17.2% and a three-year stack of 30%. This is truly one of the best performances in specialty retail. Our second quarter total sales are up 9.8% for White House, reflecting 39 new stores this year over year as we accelerate our capital investment in this brand. As we have discussed in our planning assumptions, we knew it would be a challenge to cycle last year due to the launch of the work kit and the polished casual assortment which drove 14.9% comparable sales increase in 2011, and we are pleased with our results in this quarter.

As I mentioned on our first quarter call, we entered the second quarter for White House Black Market a bit lean in inventory, having delivered above-plan total sales performance of 18.2% in the first quarter. We opened 31 stores to date this year, including 10 outlets. These new stores are exceeding our sales expectations and were our first priority as we allocated total inventory since first year sales are a major indicator of the long-term success for a given location. So in all likelihood, we left more than a few comparable sales dollars on the table. As I have previously stated, that’s a good problem to have and I’m pleased at how well our assortments continue to resonate with new and existing White House Black Market customers.

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