Collective Brands Increases Q4 Loss

Impairment charges pushed Collective Brands Inc. to a wider fourth-quarter loss.

For the three months ended Jan. 31, the net loss was $144 million, or $2.28 a diluted share, from a loss of $46.6 million, or 73 cents, in the year-ago quarter. The loss included $130.2 million in pre-tax noncash tradename and goodwill impairment charges related to weakening economic conditions, Collective Brands said.

Sales in the quarter fell 5.4 percent to $735.2 million from $776.8 million as comparable-store sales fell 6.6 percent due to lower Payless ShoeSource store traffic that was partially offset by higher average unit retail prices, the company said. By brand, sales for Payless were $573.1 million and for Stride Rite $162.1 million.

“We have continued to manage costs aggressively in the current economic climate. At the same time, we are managing inventories effectively to make sure fresh, on-trend product is flowing to our stores,” said Matthew Rubel, chairman, president and CEO.

During the fourth quarter of 2008, the company added 16 stores, which included 11 Payless stores in Latin America and five Stride Rite stores. It also shuttered 26 stores, which included 26 Payless sites and three Stride Rite locations. Five Payless stores were also relocated.

For the year, the loss was $68.7 million, or $1.09 a diluted share, against income of $42.7 million, or 65 cents, in 2007. Sales gained 13.4 percent to $3.44 billion from $3.04 billion.

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