Shoe Carnival Q4 Slides

Shoe Carnival Inc.’s fourth-quarter income slipped, but the firm still beat estimates.

For the period ended Jan. 28, the Evansville, Ind.-based retailer earned a net income of $3.3 million, or 24 cents a share, down 25 percent from $4.4 million, or 33 cents, a year ago.

Net sales inched up 1.1 percent to $181.9 million, despite a comparable-store sales decrease of 3 percent.

Analysts were expecting earnings per share of 21 cents, on revenue of $180.9 million, as polled by Yahoo Finance.

Mark Lemond, president and CEO of Shoe Carnival, said in statement that consumer demand for fall footwear, particularly boots, declined significantly as a result of the unseasonably warm weather.

“Consequently, heavy promotional activity was required during the fourth quarter to effectively sell through this inventory, thus reducing our sales and merchandise margin. The decline in comparable-store sales [and] merchandise margin [are due] to the sales and margin decline in the boot category,” he added.

Gross margin slipped 170 basis points to 28.3 percent for the quarter.

For the full year, Shoe Carnival earned $26.4 million, or $1.97 a share, compared with $26.8 million, or $2.05, in the prior year. Revenue advanced 3.2 percent to $762.5 million on relatively flat comps.

The firm expects first-quarter EPS to come in between 75 cents and 78 cents, assuming comp sales increase between 5.5 percent and 7 percent.

“We are excited about our growth opportunities as we move into 2012, despite certain continued economic headwinds. We expect to open approximately 30 new stores with more than one-third of these stores located in two new major markets: the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Puerto Rico,” said Lemond.

Shoe Carnival ended the period with $70.6 million in cash and cash equivalents, and no long-term debt.

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