Saks sees strong 4Q profits

Don Hogsett, Alex Lemonde-Gray, March 17, 2003

Building margins and cutting costs, Saks Inc. pushed fourth-quarter profits up by 26.2 percent, to $68.1 million from $54.0 million last year, overcoming a modest decline in sales.

Sales at the diversified retailer — including Saks Fifth Avenue, Proffitt's, McRae's, Younkers' and Carson Pirie Scott — dipped by 3.7 percent, to $1.8 billion from $1.9 billion. Same-stores fell 3.7 percent.

Sales fell at both the department store group and Saks Fifth Avenue during the Christmas quarter, but the decline was greater at the luxury retail outlet. Department store sales declined by 2.3 percent, to $1.2 billion, and same-store sales were off by 3.4 percent. But, the shortfall was even more pronounced at Saks Fifth Avenue, where total sales declined by 5.9 percent, to $682.0 million, and same-store sales declined by 4.1 percent.

But, it was Saks Fifth Avenue, the upstairs retailer, that drove the bottom line improvement as it bounded back from weakness the year before. Roaring back from last year's softness, operating profits at Saks Fifth Avenue jumped to $53.1 million from $10.7 million last year. But with sales easing off in a promotional holiday season, operating profits at the department store group declined by 19.0 percent, to $118.2 million from $145.9 million last year.

In a lift to the bottom line, the combined retail operation widened its margins substantially, by 200 basis points, or 2.0 percentage points, to 35.6 percent from 33.6 percent last year. Despite the lower sales rate, gross margin dollars improved by 1.8 percent, to $654.9 million from $643.2 million, dropping $19.9 million down to the bottom line.

In another big lift, the retailer slashed its overhead. Measured as a percentage of lower sales, operating costs improved by 30 basis points, to 18.6 percent from 18.9 percent a year ago. But measured in absolute dollars, costs were pared by 5.5 percent, to $342.7 million from $362.2 million, generating a cash savings of $19.9 million.

Saks Inc.

Qtr. 2/1 (x000) 2002 2001 % change
a-Fourth-quarter results include $7.7 million in integration charges; a $17.6 million loss from long-lived assets, compared with a $14.0 million loss a year ago; miscellaneous expenses of $67,000, compared with $337,000 in miscellaneous income last year.
b-12-month results include $10.0 million in integration charges, compared with $1.5 million in 2001; a $19.5 million loss from long-lived assets vs. a year-before loss of $32.6 million; a $709,000 gain on the early retirement of debt, compared with a prior-year gain of $26.1 million; and $229,000 in miscellaneous income vs. $1.1 million the previous year.
Sales $1,841,521 $1,911,959 -3.7
Oper. income (EBIT) 163,619 132,759 23.2
Net income 68,114a 53,966a 26.2
Per share (diluted) 0.47 0.37 27.0
Average gross margin 35.6% 33.6%
SG&A expenses 18.6% 18.9%
12 months
Sales 5,911,122 6,070,568 -2.6
Oper. income (EBIT) 262,627 138,529 89.6
Net income 24,244b 322b
Per share (diluted) 0.17 0.00
Average gross margin 36.7% 34.8%
SG&A expenses 22.5% 22.9%

Fourth quarter segment results

Saks Dept. Store Group 2002 2001 % change
Sales $1,159,488 $1,187,099 -2.3
Same-store sales -3.4% NA -3.4
Operating income 118,191 145,922 -19.0
Assets 2,195,498 2,202,762 -0.3
Saks Fifth avenue
Sales 682,033 724,860 -5.9
Same-store sales -4.1% -4.1%
Operating income 53,135 10,653 398.8
Assets 1,770,820 1,852,648 -4.4
12 months
Saks Dept. Store Group
Sales 3,574,080 3,621,819 -1.3
Same-store sales -1.6% NA -1.6
Operating income 197,227 222,910 -11.5
Assets 2,195,498 2,202,762 -0.3
Saks Fifth avenue
Sales 2,337,042 2,448,749 -4.6
Same-store sales -1.1% NA -1.1
Operating income 101,466 (22,744)
Assets 1,770,820 1,852,648 -4.4

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