The Fresh Market's CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

The Fresh Market (TFM)

Q2 2012 Earnings Conference Call

August 29, 2012 09:00 AM ET

Executives

Lisa Klinger – Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Craig Carlock - President and Chief Executive Officer

Analysts

Priscilla – JP Morgan

Kate Wendt - Wells Fargo Securities

Mark Wiltamuth - Morgan Stanley

Karen Short - BMO Capital

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

Kelly Bania - Bank of America

Sean Naughton - Piper Jaffray

Charles Grom - Deutsche Bank

Jason DeRise – UBS

Mark Miller - William Blair

Tim Moore - Cabot Money Management

Colin Guheen - Cowen and Company

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentleman. Welcome to The Fresh Market Inc. Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct the question-and-answer session and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator Instruction) As a reminder today’s call is being recorded. I'd now like to turn the conference over to your host Ms. Lisa Klinger. Ma’am you may begin.

Lisa Klinger

Thank you Shannon and good morning everyone. Welcome to our second quarter 2012 earnings conference call. I'm joined by Craig Carlock our President and CEO and we will be your speakers for today's call.

Before we get into our discussion of our results I need to remind you that any forward-looking statements we make today are subject to our Safe Harbor statements found in our press release and SEC filings. Our second quarter earnings release and related financial information are available on our website under the Corporate Information section.

For those who cannot listen to the entire live broadcast a replay will be available for 30 days on our website at www.thefreshmarket.com. After our prepared comments we will be available to take your questions for as long as time permits.

Now, I'll turn the call over to, Craig.

Craig Carlock

Thank you, Lisa, and thank all of you for joining us today. We are pleased to share our second quarter and first half results with you and we look forward to today’s discussion.

Let me begin by saying, I am very pleased to announce another quarter of exceptional growth in both revenue and earnings for The Fresh Market. The company’s second quarter diluted earnings per share increased 26.4% to $0.28 over last year’s second quarter diluted earnings per share of $0.22 and our first half diluted earnings per share increased 35.5% to $0.68 over last year’s first half diluted earnings per share of $0.50.

Our comparable store sales increased 8% in the quarter and our total net sales grew 20.6% to $313 million. Additionally, during the quarter we opened five stores in Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Bedford, New Hampshire; New Orleans, Louisiana and Rogers, Arkansas, adding the states of Kansas, Oklahoma and New Hampshire to our store base. Since the quarter ended, we have opened three additional stores in Bradenton, Florida; West Chester, Ohio and Pinecrest, Florida. We’ve now opened 11 stores this fiscal year and we remain on-track to open 14 to 16 stores in fiscal 2012.

Our gross margin rate increased approximately 140 basis points in the quarter primarily through merchandise margin expansion. Benefits obtained through re-negotiated supply chain and vendor agreement and reduced shrink as the percentage of sales primarily drove the merchandise margin growth. Balancing the strong performance we have achieved so far in fiscal 2012 with the risks and opportunities we see remaining in our next two quarters we’re pleased to increase our fiscal 2012 earnings guidance to $1.33 to $1.38 per share, an increase of 25% to 30% over fiscal 2011 earnings per share of $1.07.

Now, I'll turn the call over to Lisa, who will provide additional details on our financial results.

Lisa Klinger

Thank you, Craig. First, I would like to point out that there were several items that impact the comparability of our quarterly results and those items should be reviewed by investors in order to assess the company’s ongoing operations on a comparable basis. These items were described in detail in our press release and include the transaction expenses related to the equity offering during the second quarter as well as the transaction expenses incurred in the first quarter of fiscal 2011 and the net settlement payments made and received in connection with two resolved legal matters.

For the second quarter, net income increased $2.8 million to $13.3 million from $10.5 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2011. Diluted earnings per share increased 26.4% to $0.28 per share. For the first half, net income increased 35.9% to $32.6 million with diluted earnings per share of $0.68. As Craig highlighted earlier, the company had total net sales growth of 20.6% and comparable store sales growth of 8% for the quarter.

The comp sales increased resulted from a 5.3 percentage point increase in transaction and a 2.5 percentage point increase in average transaction size. The increase in transaction size was primarily driven by increases in average unit retail as a result of passing through cost inflation offset somewhat by the mix effects of lower AUR categories growing faster than a store. We also continue to see the growth of our larger basket transactions outpace the growth of smaller basket transactions as our loyal customers bought more items and spent more per visit.

It is important to note that our second quarter 2011 comparable sales growth of 4.6% was driven by one percentage point increase in transactions and a 3.6 percentage point increase in average transaction size. So, on a two-year stacked basis, our comparable sales have increased to 12.6% driven by a healthy balance of a 6.3 percentage point increase in transactions and a 6.3 percentage point increase in transaction size. In addition to the strong comparable sales growth nearly 21% total sales growth performance was also attributable to a strong new store productivity level of nearly 93% highlighting our ability to continue to grow and enter new markets and states with success. As all five new store performed in line or better with the company’s forecast.

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