Stage Stores profits edge up slightly in Q4

Houston — Profits at apparel retailer Stage Stores rose 2% to $32.7 million during the fourth quarter, from $32 million a year earlier.

Revenue increased 6% to $479.1 million from $453.7 million, beating Wall Street's $468.2 million forecast.

For the year, Stage Stores reported net income of $31 million, down from $37.6 million in the prior year. Annual revenue climbed 3% to $1.51 billion.

Commenting on the company’s fourth quarter results, Andy Hall, president and CEO, stated, “We are pleased that we met our sales expectations for the fourth quarter; however, despite a 22% increase in earnings per share, we fell short of our bottom-line goal. Our results are a reflection of the highly promotional business environment that was prevalent throughout the quarter. We increased our promotional activities in an effort to respond to our customers needs and to maintain our inventories at an appropriate level. Our heightened promotional activities, coupled with our inability to pass through most of the fall cost increases, negatively impacted our merchandise margins and led to an 80 basis point decline in the gross profit rate. Importantly, we were able to control our SG&A expenses, and achieved a 40 basis point drop in the SG&A rate while operating 27 more stores versus last year.”

For the fiscal year 2012, the company is projecting comparable-store sales to be in a range of flat to up 2%.

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