Burlington Tops Earnings Estimates as It Reveals New Target to Expand to 2,000 Stores

Burlington Stores Inc. logged stronger-than-anticipated fourth-quarter earnings and sales as it unveiled a new target to expand its brick-and-mortar fleet.

For the three months ended Jan. 30, the New Jersey-based company posted adjusted profits of $163 million, or earnings of $2.44 per share, versus the prior year period’s $215 million, or $3.21 per share. Wall Street had predicted earnings of $2.12 per share. Revenues also beat expectations, rising 4% to $2.28 billion, compared with consensus bets of $2.08 billion.

The off-price chain reported flat comps, with same-store sales down 10% in November due to “unfavorable weather.” However, this trend “improved significantly” — to flat in December and to a 17% increase in January — which the company attributed to normalized weather patterns and the disbursement of federal stimulus payments.

“I was pleased with how we navigated this trend and utilized core Burlington 2.0 strategies — chasing sales, buying opportunistically and operating with leaner inventories,” CEO Michael O’Sullivan said in a statement. “Looking ahead, the retail environment is likely to remain unpredictable for some time. We are planning 2021 comparable store sales conservatively but will manage liquidity to chase sales if the trend is stronger.”

The company ended the three months with $1.86 billion in liquidity, including $1.38 billion in unrestricted cash and $477 million in availability on its asset-based lending facility.

In an announcement accompanying the financial results, Burlington revealed that it would expand its physical store count to 2,000, compared with the previous goal of growing to 1,000 locations, which was established in connection with the chain’s initial public offering back in 2013. (At the end of the fourth quarter, the retailer operated 761 units across 45 states and in Puerto Rico.)

“This new target takes account of the significant market share opportunity that we see ahead of us and of the improvements we are making in our business with Burlington 2.0, in particular the significant reduction in inventory levels and the smaller store footprint that this enables,” O’Sullivan said.

Burlington did not provide profit or sales guidance for the year ahead. However, it shared plans to open 100 new stores, while relocating or closing 25 stores, for a total of 75 net new stores in the 2021 fiscal year.

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