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Basch Report
Jax Daily Record Friday, Nov. 29, 201905:20 AM EST

The Basch Report: Stein Mart optimistic on sales initiatives

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Third-quarter sales fall 1% after Jacksonville-based retailer closes five stores.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Stein Mart Inc. last week reported a loss for the third quarter but remained optimistic that new sales initiatives are improving its outlook.

The Jacksonville-based fashion retailer recorded a net loss of $12.1 million, or 25 cents a share, for the quarter ended Nov. 2.

Sales fell 1% to $276.1 million, impacted by the closing of five stores this year that reduced its footprint to 283 stores in operation across the country.

Comparable-store sales (sales at stores continuing in operation for more than one year) fell 0.1%. 

However, CEO Hunt Hawkins expressed optimism about the sales trend because third-quarter comparable-store sales were 2.5 percentage points better than they were in the first half of the fiscal year.

“The increase reflects traction from our fall initiatives, with the most impactful being the launch of our Kids department and a double-digit increase in omni sales,” Hawkins said in a conference call.

Omni sales, or sales from all online channels, jumped 18% in the third quarter.

The launch of the Kids department was one of several initiatives introduced to turn sales trends around. Hawkins said the expansion of children’s clothing makes Stein Mart a “one-stop destination” for families to shop.

“As planned, Kids is creating incremental sales by attracting new customers to Stein Mart, as well as increasing basket size for existing customers that can now conveniently shop for their children in our stores and online,” President MaryAnne Morin said in the conference call.

Stein Mart this month launched a fine jewelry department, which Morin said offers merchandise at prices 40% to 60% lower than competitors.

“The addition of fine jewelry allows us to expand our luxury offerings and is another way we differentiate from other off-price retailers,” she said.

Stein Mart is projecting fourth-quarter comparable-store sales to be in a range of flat to a low single-digit percentage increase.

“With our improved third-quarter sales trend, we believe we are in a good position heading into the fourth quarter and expect to continue to make healthy progress with our business,” Hawkins said.

Wall Street remains uncertain about the turnaround. Stein Mart’s stock has been trading below $1 since May as investors wait for more sales improvement.

Shoe Carnival beats forecasts

Shoe Carnival Inc. last week reported third-quarter earnings that were higher than analysts’ forecasts.

The footwear chain controlled by former Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver reported earnings of 94 cents a share for the third quarter ended Nov. 2, up from 76 cents the previous year.

The earnings were 3 cents a share higher than the consensus forecast of analysts, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Sales in the quarter rose 2% to $274.6 million and comparable-store sales rose 3.5%.

With the strong third quarter, Shoe Carnival raised its earnings forecast for the full fiscal year from a range of $2.77 to $2.83 a share to a range of $2.85 to $2.89. 

It expects comparable-store sales to be up by a low single-digit percentage for the full year.

Shoe Carnival’s stock opened $2.85 higher at $40 Friday after the earnings report, but slipped back and closed the day at $36.30, down 85 cents on the day.

Weaver is chairman of Evansville, Indiana-based Shoe Carnival and his family is the largest shareholder, controlling 34% of the stock.

Shoe Carnival operates 393 stores in 35 states and Puerto Rico.

SEC probing Ameris finance company deal

Ameris Bancorp disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last week it received subpoenas from the SEC and from a U.S. Attorney for information related to its acquisition of US Premium Finance Holding Co.

Ameris first invested in the finance company in 2016 and acquired full control of the business in 2018.

The subpoenas issued by the Atlanta Regional Office of the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia seek documents and other materials related to the deal. Ameris did not say why the subpoenas were issued.

Ameris recently moved its headquarters to Atlanta after previously maintaining its executive offices in Jacksonville.

Cannae Holdings names new CEO

Cannae Holdings Inc., the investment company spun off from Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Financial Inc., last week named Richard Massey as CEO.

Massey is senior managing director of Trasimeme Capital Management, a firm with ties to Fidelity that is operating Cannae under a management contract.

Massey also is a board member of Fidelity.

Cannae is headquartered in Las Vegas, but has been run by executives with ties to Fidelity since it was spun off as a separate company two years ago.

American Outdoor Brands splitting

Three years after acquiring a Jacksonville-based outdoor gear company to diversify beyond firearms, the parent company of Smith & Wesson is splitting its gun and outdoor businesses into two.

American Outdoor Brands Corp. announced it will split into two public companies called Smith & Wesson Brands Inc. and American Outdoor Brands Inc.

“There have been significant changes in the political climate as well as the economic, investing, and insurance markets since we embarked upon what we believe have been our very successful diversification efforts,” American Outdoor Chairman Barry Monheit said in a news release.

“We believe that separating into two independent public companies will allow each company to better align its strategic objectives with its capital allocation priorities.”

Smith & Wesson bought Jacksonville-based Ultimate Survival Technologies for $32.3 million in 2016 and changed its name to American Outdoor as part of a plan to expand its business beyond firearms.

American Outdoor closed the former UST facility in Jacksonville early this year and consolidated operations of its outdoor gear business into a new facility in Missouri, which will be the headquarters for the new American Outdoor company.

Smith & Wesson will be headquartered in the company’s current offices in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

CEO James Debney will stay on as CEO of the outdoor company.

“Since we established this business five years ago, I have been enthusiastic about its potential for both organic and inorganic growth,” Debney said in the news release.

“We have successfully acquired and integrated several respected consumer brands and grown the outdoor products and accessories business so that it has become a meaningful percentage of AOBC’s overall revenue.”

Jacksonville Medtronic sees sales growth

Medtronic plc last week reported higher sales growth for its Jacksonville division, which makes surgical instruments for ear, nose and throat physicians.

While the medical device maker does not give specific sales figures for the ENT division, it said sales grew by a high-single-digit percentage in its second quarter ended Oct. 25, adjusted for currency fluctuations. That’s up from mid-single-digit growth in the first quarter.

Medtronic said the increase was driven by capital equipment sales of a surgical navigation system and sales of disposables used with a nerve monitoring system.

The ENT business is part of Medtronic’s specialty therapies group, which had total revenue of $333 million in the second quarter.

Ireland-based Medtronic’s total global sales grew by an adjusted 4.1% to $7.7 billion.

Medtronic reported adjusted earnings of $1.31 a share for the quarter, 9 cents higher than last year and 3 cents higher than Zacks’ consensus forecast.

The company also slightly increased its earnings forecast for the full fiscal year from a range of $5.54 to $5.60 to a range of $5.57 to $5.63 a share.

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