FINANCE

Wal-Mart Q3 profit up but U.S. same-store sales down; cuts full-year outlook

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday posted a 2.8% increase in its third-quarter profit. But the chain cut its annual outlook for the second time in three months as its core shoppers continue to feel economic pressures.

"The retail environment, both in stores and online, remains competitive," In a pre-recorded conference call, Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, said the retail environment, both online and in stores, remains competitive.

"At the same time,” he said, “some customers feel uncertainty about the economy, government, jobs stability and their need to take care of their families through the holidays. "

Wal-Mart earned $3.74 billion for the three-month period ended Oct. 31, compared with $3.64 billion in the year-ago period.

Net sales rose 1.6% to $114.88 billion, less than analysts expected. Overall, total sales increased 2.4% for U.S. stores, 1.1% at Sam’s Clubs and 2% at Wal-Mart’s international stores.

U.S. same-store sales dropped 3%, marking their third straight quarterly decline.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart expects upcoming food stamp cuts and a 2% payroll tax increase to negatively affect future same-store sales.

Wal-Mart cut its earnings per share guidance for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2013, due to factors including the planned closure of approximately 50 under-performing stores in Brazil and China, plans to independently own and operate the wholesale format in India, currency exchange rate fluctuations, a competitive holiday season, and a full-year effective tax rate that is expected to range between 31 and 33%.

In a statement with the earnings release, Duke still sounded optimistic in describing the company’s third quarter earnings growth and upcoming holiday season.

"Wal-Mart delivered solid earnings growth that was within our guidance range,” said Duke. “Our most important priority is growing top line sales, including same-store sales. Wal-Mart has aggressive plans to help our customers enjoy the holiday season, and there is no doubt that we plan to win for our customers and shareholders throughout the holidays."

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FINANCE

Kohl’s misses as Q3 earnings fall 18%; lowers full-year outlook

BY Dan Berthiaume

Menomonee Falls, Wis. – Kohl’s Corp. missed Wall Street forecasts with a generally poor showing in the third quarter of fiscal 2013 that saw the retailer’s net income fell 18% to $177 million from $215 million a year ago. The chain lowered its full-year earnings forecast.

In addition, net sales dropped 1% to $4.44 billion, from $4.49 billion. Same-store sales fell 1.6%.

Kohl’s blamed the unexpected fall in same-store sales, as well as declining margins, for its steep drop in net income. Wall Street analysts had expected a better net income performance and also predicted net sales of $4.55 billion.

Kevin Mansell, chairman, president and CEO of Kohl’s, struck an optimistic tone with comments about the retailer’s holiday marketing efforts driving market share growth.

“As we enter the holiday season, we believe we are well-positioned from a merchandise content and inventory perspective to gain market share,” said Mansell. “We have increased our marketing spending and improved its impact and reach in order to drive higher traffic to our stores and on-line.”

Despite Mansell’s optimism, the chain issued a less than jolly fourth-quarter sales and earnings forecast. The company said it expects total sales to decline between 2% and 4% and same store sales to be flat to down 2%. As a result, Kohl’s forecast fourth quarter profits in the range of $1.59 to $1.74, with analysts’ consensus estimate at $1.69. The retailer lowered its full year profit forecast to a range of $4.08 to $4.23 per share from a prior forecast of $4.15 to $4.35 per share.

Kohl’s also announced new merchandising initiatives involving Juicy Couture and Izod, with the programs hitting stores in the fall of 2014.

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Gordon Bros. appoints co-presidents to bolster retail division

BY CSA STAFF

Gordon Brothers Group, a global advisory, restructuring and investment firm specializing in the retail, consumer products, industrial and real estate sectors, has named Robert E. Grosskopf and Richard P. Edwards as co-presidents of the retail division.

They will jointly assume responsibility for the division’s growth strategy while overseeing all client engagements and daily operations.

Kevin J. Kulinowski, having served as president of the retail division for the past three and a half years will assume the position of senior adviser charged with maximizing asset values, project strategy, due diligence and appraisal valuations as well as working with key clients.

"Given Bob and Rick’s combined 40 years at Gordon Brothers and strong relationships in the industry, this transition will be seamless and position the retail division extremely well for the future," stated Ken Frieze, president of Gordon Brothers Group. "Rick, Bob and Kevin have spent many years working together to guide the retail division. While their roles are changing, their continued partnership promises to maintain the retail division as the market leader for event-driven inventory and fixture solutions for retailers, their lenders and advisors.”

Gordon Brothers Group has also hired Andrew H. Stone as managing director of field operations in the retail division. Stone has more than 25 years of retail experience and has held previous senior management positions at Office Depot. Stone will work closely with Kulinowski, spending time alongside Gordon Brothers Group’s field consultants on various projects to gain an inside perspective on the asset disposition business.

"We are excited to continue working with Kevin in this specialized capacity and build upon the strong performance and superior client service that he has fostered over the past three and a half years," said Edwards and Grosskopf in a joint statement. "We look forward to this period of growth for the retail division and the capabilities that Andy brings to the team.”

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