Gottschalk's is back in black

Don Hogsett, March 8, 2004

Swinging back to profitability from a year-before loss, Gottschalk's Inc. recorded fourth-quarter earnings of $8.4 million, compared with a year-before loss of $4.6 million. The upturn came after closing unproductive stores, paying down debt and shucking off one-time charges that acted as a drag a year ago.

Sales at the West Coast retailer improved by 1.4 percent, to $227.6 million from $224.5 million last year, while same-store sales increased by 1.6 percent.

In a prop to the bottom line, Gottschalk's grew its average gross margin by 60 basis points, or six-tenths of a percentage point, to 32.6 percent from 32 percent the prior year. At the same time, costs were whittled down by 20 basis points, or two-tenths of a percentage point, to 25.1 percent from 25.3 percent.

In a singularly big lift to earnings, Gottschalk's left behind it some of the one-time charges that generated last year's loss, specifically a $9.5 million asset-impairment charge and $1.7 million in costs tied to the sale of credit card receivables.

For all of last year, Gottschalk's recorded a profit of $1.9 million, compared with a prior-year loss of $12 million.

Gottschalk's Inc.

Qtr. 1/31 (x000) 2003 2002 % chg
(...) - Denotes decline
a-Fourth-quarter results include a $446,000 loss on the early retirement of debt, compared with $768,000 a year ago; miscellaneous income of $446,000 vs. $768,000 a year ago; and a loss of $127,000 from discontinued operations, compared with a prior-year loss of $3.3 million. Prior-year results include a $9.5 million asset impairment charge and $1.7 million in receivables sale costs.
b-12-month results include a $2.3 million loss on the early retirement of debt vs. $1.8 million in 2002; miscellaneous income of $11 million vs. $17.8 million in 2002; and a loss of $992,000 from discontinued operations, compared with a year-before loss of $4.5 million. 2002 results included a $9.5 million asset impairment charge and $1.7 million in receivables sale costs.
Sales $227,615 $224,513 1.4
Oper. income (EBIT) 19,509 18,542 5.2
Net income 8,446a (4,565)a --
Per share (diluted) 0.64 (0.36) --
Average gross margin 32.6% 32.0% --
SG&A expenses 25.1% 25.3% --
12 months 2003 2002 % chg
Sales 660,574 665,916 -0.8
Oper. income (EBIT) 28,492 28,387 0.4
Net income 1,870b (111,973)b --
Per share (diluted) 0.14 (0.94) --
Average gross margin 34.1% 33.7% --
SG&A expenses 30.9% 31.2% --


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