Bakers Plummets in Q4

Bakers Footwear Group Inc. continues to be plagued with financial trouble, evidenced by the St. Louis-based firm’s 93 percent earnings slide in the fourth quarter, reported on Wednesday.

Bakers’ net income totaled just $500,000, or 7 cents a diluted share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31, 2009, versus $7.3 million, or $1.03, in the fourth quarter of last year (which included a gain of $4.8 million, or 67 cents a diluted share, from the early termination of an operating lease).

The company’s independent accounting firm also issued a coinciding audit warning of an “existence of conditions that raise substantial doubt about whether the company can continue as a going concern.”

Peter Edison, Bakers’ chairman and CEO, called the audit “disappointing” in a statement. “We strongly and respectfully disagree with this view of our prospects. We foresee positive sales trends continuing during fiscal 2009.” He also noted that Bank of America, the company’s creditor, extended Bakers’ revolving credit agreement to January 2011 from August 2010.

Sales at the fashion-footwear retailer for the fourth quarter rose 1 percent to $55.5 million, from $54.7 million for the same quarter last year. Comparable-store sales were a bright spot for Bakers, jumping 3.6 percent for the quarter, versus a decline of 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

For the full year, Bakers’ narrowed its loss to $15 million, or $2.13 a diluted share, down from last year’s loss of $17.7 million, or $2.70. Revenue dropped 1 percent, to $183.7 million, from $186.3 million the year prior, while same-store sales were up 0.5 percent for the year, versus a 12.3 percent decline during the year-ago period.

The retailer’s stock closed on Wednesday up 11.8 percent, ending at 89 cents.

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