The Men's Wearhouse Management Discusses Q2 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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The Men's Wearhouse (MW) Q2 2014 Earnings Call September 12, 2013 9:00 AM ET


Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to The Men's Wearhouse Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] This conference is being recorded today, September 12, 2013. I would now like to turn the conference over to Ken Dennard. Please go ahead, Ken.

Ken Dennard

Thanks, and good morning, everyone. We appreciate you joining us for Men's Wearhouse conference call to review 2013 second quarter results. Before I turn the call over to management, I have the normal housekeeping details to run through. There will be a replay of today's call being webcast from company's website. That's, and that's in the Investor Relations section. Additionally, there's a recorded replay telephonically for the next 7 days, and the information for the dial-up on that is in the press release we released yesterday.

Please note that information on this call speaks only as of today, September 12, 2013. And therefore, you are advised that time-sensitive information may no longer be accurate as of the time of any replay listening or transcript reading. In addition, the comments made by management of Men's Wearhouse today during the conference call may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States federal securities laws. These forward-looking statements reflect the current views of management. However, various risks, uncertainties and contingencies could cause actual results, performance and achievements to differ materially from those expressed in the statements made by management. The listener or reader is encouraged to read the company's annual report on Form 10-K and its quarterly reports on Form 10-Q to understand these risks, uncertainties and contingencies.

With me today are Doug Ewert, Men's Wearhouse's CEO; and Jon Kimmins, CFO. And now I'd like to turn the call over to Jon.

Jon W. Kimmins

Thanks, Ken. Good morning, everyone. In our press release issued yesterday evening and in our Form 10-Q filed this morning, we reported the results of our second quarter 2013. Our press release is comprehensive in discussing the details of our results for the quarter. So rather than repeat the details, I'll provide further clarification of the effects of a calendar shift and certain onetime charges that were incurred in the quarter.

My remarks are intended to have clarified the company's second quarter and first half results compared with the same periods last year. Our second quarter GAAP earnings were $0.85. Included in those results were onetime charges amounting to $12.4 million or $0.16 per share. The charges were comprised of a $9.5 million goodwill write-off relating to our K&G business and $2.9 million in expenses primarily related to our acquisition of Joseph Abboud and some separation and legal costs associated with a former executive.

Our adjusted EPS after adding back the onetime charges was $1.01. This is $0.14 lower than the second quarter of last year. We estimate that $0.10 of this change is due to a timing shift in our tux business. We discussed this at length during our first quarter call. It's because the Easter was 2 weeks earlier in this year's fiscal calendar compared to last year. And there was a significant shift in the prom-related rentals that were pulled into the first quarter and out of the second quarter.

Now let me touch on some of the major components of our second quarter P&L. Total net sales were down 2.3% or $15 million. The most prominent driver is the decrease -- of this decrease is the shift in our tux business. We also had a sales decrease in Moores, K&G and Corporate Apparel, but these were more or less in line with internal plans. The decreases were partially offset by an increase in retail sales at our Men's Wearhouse stores. Our Men's Wearhouse stores had slight positive comps for the quarter.

Gross margin was down from last year by $11.5 million as a result of overall lower sales. Again, most of this decline was from the tuxedo shift. Some of the realized loss margin was offset by a higher gross margin rate on our retail clothing product.

SG&A, after eliminating the $2.9 million and onetime costs, was slightly higher than last year. So a simplified summary of our $0.14 EPS decline compared to last year is as follows: Approximately $0.10 was just timing between quarters; $0.01 was due to a higher effective tax rate this year; and approximately $0.03 was due to softer business.

Now I'll turn to the results for the 6-month period of 2013. In this case, most of the timing differences got eliminated, and the comparison to 2012 was a little more straightforward. Sales for the first 6 months increased $15 million compared to the 6-month period last year. The increase was driven by positive Men's Wearhouse comp store sales of 2 -- 1.2% and the addition of new Men's Wearhouse stores and an increase in Corporate Apparel sales. These increases were partially offset by sales decreases in Moores and K&G, as well as the closing of more than 50 MW Tux stores.

Gross margin dollars for the period increased by $12.4 million. This increase was driven by higher sales and a 44-basis-point increase in our gross margin rate on total sales. Adjusted SG&A increased by $13.2 million compared to the same period last year. This increase was primarily the result of normal increases in payroll and related costs plus some higher than normal increases in medical costs.

The result on operating income after eliminating the onetime charges was a slight decrease to last year by about $800,000. The 6-month EPS was further impacted by an increase in our effective tax rate of approximately 1.5% and a decrease in our outstanding shares resulting from our share buyback.

So again, a simplified EPS bridge to last year is as follows: reported GAAP EPS was $1.50; onetime adjustment to add $0.16; the higher effective tax rate cost about $0.03 compared to last year; and the reduced share count added about $0.02. So adding those components gets us to about $1.67 this year compared to $1.67 last year. In summary, our first half EPS on this comparable basis was flat to last year but slightly behind our internal expectations.

As to our balance sheet, we continue to manage inventories very well. Our per store inventory is slightly below last year in spite of lower-than-expected sales. Our tuxedo rental inventory is higher than last year by $28 million due to new Vera Wang designs that were introduced last year. This product is driving very strong increases in our average rental value.

Our cash balance was lower than normal at $32 million due to the timing of the share repurchases that has and will continue to grow as the year proceeds. We continue to focus on finding the appropriate balance between liquidity and the return of capital to our shareholders, and our balance sheet continues to be quite strong.

Now before I move on to discuss our revised full year guidance, I want to mention a couple of other actions we took during the past few months. First, as mentioned in the release, we funded the acquisition of Joseph Abboud with a 5-year term loan under the terms of our bank facility. The rate under the loan documents is LIBOR plus 1.75. We simultaneously entered into an interest rate swap that fixes our all-in rate at 3.02% for the life of the loan.

Also, as previously announced, we repurchased $100 million worth of our outstanding shares via an accelerated share repurchase agreement or ASR. The way the ASR works is that we paid $100 million at the end of Q2 and immediately eliminated 2.2 million shares from our share count. But that is not the final share count. The bank with whom we did the transaction then takes about 4 months to buy the shares in the open market to cover the shares they sold to us. At the end of that period, they'll deliver the remaining shares to Men's Wearhouse based on an average price over that period. If the share price drops below approximately $38, we'll get more shares at a lower average price. So with the ASR, along with others purchases, it brings our year-to-date share repurchases to $152 million and is in keeping with our commitment to maintain a proper balance of financial flexibility while maximizing returns to shareholders.

As to our evaluation of alternatives for K&G, we have an ongoing process under which we received preliminary offers to acquire the business. We're evaluating these offers, as well as other alternatives, but we'll not be able to make any further comments at this time.

Now as to our revised guidance for the year. While our results for the first 6 months are only slightly below internal expectations, recent sales trends in both Canada and the U.S. have led us to be less optimistic about the remainder of the year. We see that many other retailers, both large and small, are also predicting a difficult second half. Therefore, we're reducing the previous comp store guidance by approximately 2% from Men's Wearhouse and Moores. Please note, however, that we still expect positive comp store growth of 2% to 3% in our largest division, Men's Wearhouse. On the basis of these revised expectations, and the uncertainty in the retail climate, we're revising our guidance for the year to a range of $2.40 to $2.50.

Compared to last year's 52 weeks, operating income is approximately flat. Interest expense is expected to be up by about $1.8 million, and there's a $0.12 negative impact from the higher effective tax rate.

Now I'd like to turn the call over to the CEO of Men's Wearhouse, Doug Ewert.

Douglas S. Ewert

Thank you, Jon. In our largest division, Men' Wearhouse stores, which represented 66% of our second quarter revenues, we believe customers continue to respond favorably to our trend-right assortments, value proposition and world-class service, despite negative external influences. In this challenging environment, we achieved a 0.7% comp store sales increase. However, both retail and tuxedo rental increased at rates lower than we had forecast. We believe the men's apparel industry is being negatively impacted by shifting priorities in consumer spending and continued uncertainty among our core customers' confidence in the economic climate. These factors are having a dampening effect on customer traffic levels. We are, therefore, more cautious about the remainder of the year, which has now been reflected in our revised guidance.

As I highlighted in last earnings conference call, we're focused on strategies that leverage our expertise and reputation in the men's apparel business to provide growth and ultimately create shareholder value. One of those strategies is increasing the penetration of exclusive products to improve our gross margin and attract new customers. The recent acquisition of the Joseph Abboud brand and factory furthers this strategy, and I believe will be transformational for the Men's Wearhouse. We're bringing together a number of compelling factors, including the talent and experience that the designer Joseph Abboud has for creating high-quality menswear, the strength of a global brand that has generated an estimated $8 billion in sales over 26 years, largely in luxury department and specialty stores, the vertical integration of one of the finest tailored clothing manufacturing facilities in the world, the consumer demand for quality products that are made in the U.S.A., the speed to market and flexibility of domestic tailored clothing production, the unique ability to produce high-quality custom clothing in 2 weeks, a world-class service reputation of The Men's Wearhouse, the reach of over 750 specialty stores and the efficiencies of scale. We believe we have the ingredients to create a unique and compelling offering that will be attractive to customers looking for modern American menswear that is superior in quality, style and value to alternatives available in the market.

This fall, we will be selectively reducing our wholesale distribution, solidifying certain licensing relationships while beginning to introduce tailored clothing manufactured in our newly acquired factory in the select Men's Wearhouse stores. Next spring, we'll complete the rollout into all stores and introduce exclusive Abboud sportswear, furnishings, accessories, shoes, outerwear and rental formalwear.

Moving back to our current results, we now have visibility into approximately 90% of the expected tuxedo rental revenue for the year, and we're forecasting a low single-digit sales increase. We are aware of widespread negative results impacting the wedding industry this year. We believe this is mostly a timing shift. Historically, we've seen numeric anomalies in the calendar effect when brides choose their wedding date, and we believe that the number 13 in 2013 is causing a small but meaningful number of brides to avoid getting married this year. It's reassuring to see a significant increase in advanced reservation for 2014 weddings though.

There were a number of noteworthy trends, which we observed as we progressed through the second quarter. Our focus on maximizing clothing margin through secure sourcing and retail price optimization resulted in a gross margin improvement of 111 basis points over the same period last year. Slim fit products continue to grow in importance and now represents 40% of our overall retail business, which we believe is further evidence that our retail assortments are trend-right and relevant to both our core customer and the millennial-age customer.

Denim has become a meaningful part of our pants business and grew 20% during the quarter, further indicating we are extending our share of closet with our customers.

Our new website launched earlier this year and combined with in-store technology enhancements, we believe, will improve our customer engagement through an omni-channel experience. Furthering these initiatives, we've begun leveraging our extensive database of customer purchase history to send e-mail suggestions relevant to each individual. We believe that preference-driven personalization is an important way for us to further ongoing engagement with our customers.

Finally, in July, we completed our most successful National Suit Drive ever by collecting approximately 200,000 gently used suits, which will be cleaned and distributed to men trying to re-enter the workforce through 200 nonprofit partners.

Our marketing messaging is working hard and delivering a positive ROI. We found success in giving our customers a reason to buy beyond just price. Over the past year, we've effectively communicated the bit change in menswear and established Men's Wearhouse as an important place to consider when updating your wardrobe. We will now evolve that campaign with fashionable trend-right items for the fall season that a modern man should own. The new campaign launches soon.

At Moores, our Canadian division, comprised of 120 stores and representing 12% of our total revenues, we are entering the fourth straight quarter of negative results, although this quarter was slightly better than our internal expectations. We believe the overall traffic levels continue to be pressured by macroeconomic conditions. This is consistent with the parallel results reported by Trendex and Statistics Canada.

We have some improvement in -- we have seen some improvement in Québec. However, the English-speaking provinces continue to be challenged. We're managing product margins, which are higher than last year. Strengths in the business include slim fit, big and tall and tuxedo rental. As Moores has the #1 market share position in Canada in the dress apparel space, we believe business will improve as the conditions do. That said, we continue to examine all ways we can directly improve business. In that vein, we launched a new television campaign called Tailored for Canada [ph] that went on air this week.

At K&G, which represented 13% of total revenues, the results for the quarter were slightly higher than planned, with operating margins on par with last year. As Jon indicated, we'll update you on the strategic review of this business unit when appropriate.

Our Corporate Apparel business represented 8% of overall revenue for the quarter and remains on track to end the year with an improvement over the previous year. We continue to see steady strengthening of the managed uniform program business in both the U.K. and the U.S. However, the small to medium enterprise segment in the U.K. continues to be sluggish. We're actively engaged in numerous RFP processes to win new business and believe that our reputation and experience, along with our value proposition, provide compelling reasons to unseat incumbent uniform providers.

During the fourth quarter of 2012, we launched our first outlet stores under The Men's Wearhouse outlet name. We now have 8 stores opened and are applying what we have learned thus far to our model to maximize this opportunity. Customers are responding well to our strong value proposition and customer service experience. We're seeing particular strengths in sportswear and designer-branded suit separates. We ultimately see the outlet stores as having the potential to be a 100-store opportunity.

Over the last few weeks, I visited many of our stores and had town hall meetings with over 200 of our store managers. I'm encouraged by the feedback I'm getting. Our stores are well stocked, and our inventories are on trend and competitively priced. We don't have an aging inventory or clearance problem. Our people are extremely enthusiastic about the Joseph Abboud acquisition and responding positively to hearing our integration and assortment strategies. Bottom line, our assortments are on trend, our stores look great and our workforce is engaged and enthusiastic.

We're disappointed that we need to lower our expectations for the year. We view the root cause as temporary, and while tactical course corrections are appropriate and ongoing, we remain confident in our ability to continue to manage through the short term, as well as build on our strengths for the long term. We'll continue to focus on opening more stores, growing our margins, expanding our share, leveraging our competencies, executing efficient cash allocation strategies and delivering shareholder value.

We appreciate your interest in our company. I'll now turn the call back over to the operator for your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session


[Operator Instructions] Our first question is from Brian Tunick with JPMorgan.

Brian J. Tunick - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

I guess sort of 2 questions really getting on to the gross margin idea here. And I guess first on the promotional side, so it sounds like one of your key competitors seems to be pulling back a little and moving towards a little more of an EDLP strategy. So just wondering how your promotional calendar stacked up in Q2 versus last year. And then tying into your comments on the macro, what do you think you can do in the next couple of months here? I know you're also thinking you can get higher price points. So what do you think promotional landscape looks like? And on the percentage of merchandise that's exclusive today, I know, obviously, Joseph Abboud is going to be a big part of that going forward, but are there other categories or other parts of the business that you think can also drive that? And ultimately, where do you think the exclusive part of the business can get to?

Douglas S. Ewert

Okay, Brian. I'll see if I can capture all of that. From a second quarter perspective, our promotional calendar pretty much lined up with last year. We had similar number of advertised promotions as the previous year. We're continuing to see a lift in our AUR, which is really quite healthy, primarily being driven from some retail price increases that we took in January. As far as the competitive environment, we're still in a tough environment. We still find that we need television advertising to drive store traffic. We believe, at least right now, that the best strategy for us is to not aggressively lower our prices. We don't think that we would get a return on that investment in markdowns. And we're constantly playing around with our marketing spend by market because we're a national retailer to try to optimize that spend. And as of right now, we don't believe an aggressive increase in our marketing spend would give us payoff. And so at least right now, this is the strategy we think is the best to get through these headwinds, and we're protecting our margins. We're managing our markdowns. We're staying on top of the inventory. And we've been through these kinds of turbulent times before, and so we're prepared to react if the situation changes or if we get some new information. But right now, we think this is the right strategy. As far as everyday low priced product, it's been a part of our strategy now for a number of years. We're finding some great success with ELP product. We think Abboud and other merchandising strategies that we're going to unfold over the next year or so will lead us to increase the amount of everyday low priced product that we sell. BOGO continues to work strongly for us. So we don't see that necessarily changing. But ELP should become a larger percentage of our assortment.


And our next question is from John Kernan with Cowen.

John D. Kernan - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

I wanted to go back to the gross margin side of things. The clothing product gross margin was really impressive in the first half of the year, nice increases year-over-year. What's embedded in your gross margin outlook for the rest of the year for that line item? And then occupancy dollars ticked up a little bit year-over-year, a little bit higher than we had expected. Is that kind of the run rate of occupancy dollar growth you would expect for the rest of the year now that you're opening more outlet doors? Any color on gross margin will be helpful.

Douglas S. Ewert

Jon, we're forecasting that we're going to be able to continue to manage our margins and then get over 100-basis-point improvement in margin.

John D. Kernan - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

In the clothing product?

Douglas S. Ewert


John D. Kernan - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Okay. And then occupancy dollars, I guess, being the other part, a big part of gross margin, that was a little higher than we expected. Is that kind of the run rate of dollar growth we should expect for the back half of the year as well?

Jon W. Kimmins

Yes, more or less. Of course, it depends on the mix of how many stores we opened early versus late. But it should be similar to that. But we certainly need some sales growth to leverage that.

John D. Kernan - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Okay. And then finally, tuxedo bookings, it sounds like you've got fairly good visibility into what -- into the shift that's going on, and you're starting to see 2014 bookings come in a little bit above your expectations. Can you talk about how much of the forward year you usually have booked at this point in the year for tuxedo?

Douglas S. Ewert

It's a moving -- it changes every week. It's a moving number. But it's -- less than 10% of the year for '14 is already booked. But what we are seeing against the same point in time a year ago is considerably higher.


And our next question is from David Mann with Johnson Rice.

David M. Mann - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

In terms of the Abboud acquisition, can you talk a little bit about what the run rate of sales and margins, some of the financial metrics of what you acquired, and how you would expect that to change going forward with your strategy?

Douglas S. Ewert

Well, David, we acquired a company that was essentially a wholesale model, and we're converting it to a vertical retail model. So the historical sales trends are really somewhat irrelevant to us. We have -- we are continuing to shift some fall on order that's previously booked but not accepting new orders from customers -- from wholesale customers. And we're winding down some of the licensees that crossed into our categories and building our relationships with some of the licensees that didn't cross over into our category. So it's really a reshaping of the whole business model.

David M. Mann - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

Obviously, you put some numbers to the paper when you made the acquisition. How do you think it's going to look next year in terms of the revenue or margin impact on your business to offset the interest cost that you took on?

Douglas S. Ewert

We believe it's going to be accretive next year. But we'll update you on more specifics as we move closer to next year.

David M. Mann - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

Okay. And then in terms of Corporate Apparel, you gave some specific guidance earlier in the year about some modest growth in revenues and some growth in the margin there. Can you update us on how you feel that's going to look given the sales were a little bit lower in the second quarter?

Douglas S. Ewert

Well, our performance in Corporate Apparel in the second quarter was right on plan. Just to remind you, this business is a little bit -- a little lumpy as we roll out new uniform programs. We had a good first quarter. Second quarter was right on plan. We're forecasting the balance of the year to be right on plan.


[Operator Instructions] Our next question is from Steve Kernkraut with Berman Capital.

Steven J. Kernkraut - Berman Capital Management LP

I have a couple of questions. One is that if you could just maybe elaborate a little bit more in terms of you blaming the macro environment rather than a situation where potentially men's closets are filled with the suits after you and your key competitors have been just selling suits at discounted prices over the last couple of years? And secondly, if you could just talk a little bit about the accelerated purchase stock plan where -- I mean, it just seems that since you guys knew your business was slow, it just seems incredible to me that you would have gone out and bought stock at $39 or whatever while it's going to open up 10%, 15% lower than that today?

Douglas S. Ewert

Sure. Thanks, Steve. We've seen our traffic slowly fall off, particularly in the back part of the second quarter and quarter-to-date, Q3, we're seeing that trend continue. We are not seeing evidence, though, that we have essentially packed our customers' closets. Because we have a very robust customer loyalty program, somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of our customers join our Perfect Fit loyalty program, and we track over time the percentage of our business every week that comes from returning customers versus net new customers. And we're not seeing any fall-off in the percentage of our business that is coming from returning customers. And we would think that if we had essentially packed our customers' closets, then we'd start to see a fall-off in those numbers, and we're not seeing that also. We take that as evidence that our promotional strategies are continuing to work. I'll turn the ASR question over to Jon.

Jon W. Kimmins

Yes. Steve, the ASR really wasn't a matter -- it wasn't really a timing question. What we're trying to do, first of all, is become more disciplined in using excess cash to buy back shares on a more steady basis. So starting at the end of the second quarter, we had excess cash. We would have proceeded to buy $100 million over the next 3 or 4 years months in the open market. The ASR gives us the benefit of getting the shares reduced for weighted average share count basis right away, but it still ends up with the same pricing as if we bought it over 3 or 4 months. The way it works is that the bank delivered us an estimated number of shares for the $100 million. But at the end of the day, they'll buy in the open market over about a 4-month period at the average market price. If the stock drops like it has this morning, we'll benefit from that in terms of getting more shares with $100 million. So it really wasn't a bet on price. It was really just following the discipline of buying when we have excess cash.


Our next question is from John Kernan with Cowen.

John D. Kernan - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Just a follow-up on the share buyback. What can we expect the average diluted share count outstanding to be at the end of the year? And what's embedded in your guidance?

Jon W. Kimmins

We think it will be -- based on the shares we bought back so far, the weighted average for the year should be about 49.2 million.

John D. Kernan - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Okay. So there's an assumption that it comes down -- continues to come down, obviously, in the third and fourth quarter? And then...

Jon W. Kimmins

That will be lower -- it will be lower in the third and fourth quarter, but for the year, it will go to 49.2 million.

John D. Kernan - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Right. And then just, and maybe I missed this, the quarter-to-date comp trends in The Men's Wearhouse concept?

Douglas S. Ewert

At the quarter-to-date Men's Wearhouse, we were down low-single digits so far.


And I'm showing no further questions. I'll turn the call back to management for closing comments.

Douglas S. Ewert

Well, thank you very much for your interest in our company, and we look forward to updating you next quarter.


Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes The Men's Wearhouse Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. If you'd like to listen to a replay of today's call, you can dial (303) 590-3030 and then enter the ID of 4634827. We thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.

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