UPDATE 3-Zale posts loss after charges, to close stores
* Q2 adj EPS $0.16 vs. estimate $0.48
* Q2 sales down 17.9 percent to $679.4 million
* Undertaking inventory cuts, job cuts, store closures
* Shares down 11.6 pct (Recasts with stock drop, adds CEO comments, other details)
ATLANTA, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Jewelry retailer Zale Corp (ZLC.N) posted quarterly results that missed Wall Street estimates on Wednesday as aggressive price cuts in the face of lower consumer spending ate into profit margins, and its shares fell more than 11 percent.
The company outlined additional cost cuts that include the closure of 115 stores and said margins had improved from January through Valentine's Day.
The company recorded various charges and posted a net loss of $23.6 million, or 74 cents per share, for the fiscal second quarter ended Jan. 31, compared with net earnings of $60.8 million, or $1.34 per share, a year earlier.
The charges included 32 cents a share tied to store and goodwill impairments and 58 cents a share related to a valuation reserve on foreign tax credits.
Adjusted for special items, profit came to 16 cents a share in the latest period, compared with 48 cents a share expected by analysts on average, according to Reuters Estimates.
Sales dropped 17.9 percent to $679.4 million, while same-store sales fell 18.1 percent as consumers cut back and Zale competed with rivals' store-closing sales.
Gross margin shrank to 44 percent of revenue from 49.3 percent a year earlier, hurt by aggressive discounting. Zale said merchandise margins and same-store sales had improved since it began focusing on item-specific promotions as opposed to storewide discounts.
Zale has been hurt by consumer cutbacks as the recession put more pressure on households facing rising unemployment, tighter credit and the housing slump. Sales at bankrupt rivals such as Whitehall Jewelers Holdings WHJHQ.PK have also been a challenge.
"We believe we are positioned to benefit from both the shakeout of competitors and our own decisions to right-size the business," Chief Executive Neal Goldberg said during a conference call.
Zale said it was taking additional actions to cut costs that include reducing inventory and closing about 115 stores with weak sales when their leases mature. The company said it cut 245 jobs this month, and said it will cut capital spending 65 percent.
The company also said it planned to reduce debt by at least $40 million from the end of its second quarter through July, when its fiscal year ends. It added that the recent addition of Canadian and Puerto Rican assets as collateral to its asset-backed credit facility gives it more flexibility, and said it feels it has sufficient liquidity.
Zale has more than 2,080 stores.
The company's shares were down 17 cents at $1.29 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta and Aarthi Sivaraman in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis)
- Police hunt for motive as search for Malaysian jet spans hemispheres |
- Russia media say Crimea votes 93 percent to quit Ukraine |
- Ukraine, Russia agree Crimea truce until March 21-Ukraine minister
- Malaysian PM says lost airliner was diverted deliberately |
- Democrats seek ways to limit Obamacare fallout after Florida defeat