Bed Bath & Beyond's CEO Discusses Q4 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Apr. 9.14 | About: Bed Bath (BBBY)

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY)

Q4 2013 Earnings Conference Call

April 09, 2014, 17:00 PM ET

Executives

Warren Eisenberg - Co-Chairman

Steven H. Temares - CEO

Susan E. Lattmann - CFO and Treasurer

Operator

Welcome to Bed Bath & Beyond's Fiscal 2013 Results Conference Call. All participants are in a listen-only mode for the duration of the call. This conference is being recorded. A rebroadcast of the conference call will be available beginning on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time through 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, April 11, 2014. To access the rebroadcast, you may dial (888) 843-7419, with the passcode ID of 36886594.

At this time, it is my pleasure to turn the conference over to Ms. Sue Lattmann, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Bed Bath & Beyond. Please go ahead.

Susan E. Lattmann

Thank you, and good afternoon. Welcome to Bed Bath & Beyond's fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 conference call. A short time ago, we issued a press release announcing Bed Bath & Beyond's results for the 3 and 12-month periods ended March 1, 2014. During this call, we will comment on some of the fourth quarter and full year highlights and provide our fiscal 2014 planning assumptions.

Before proceeding, I will read the following statement, and I quote, "Bed Bath & Beyond's fiscal fourth quarter press release and comments made during this call may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 as amended. Many of these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as may, will, expect, anticipate, approximate, estimate, assume, continue, model, project, plan and similar words and phrases. The company's actual results and future financial condition may differ materially from those expressed in any such forward-looking statements as a result of many factors. Please refer to Bed Bath & Beyond's SEC filings, including its Form 10-K for the year ended March 2, 2013. The company does not undertake any obligation to update its forward-looking statements."

Joining me on today's call are Warren Eisenberg, Co-Chairman of Bed Bath & Beyond; and Steven Temares, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors.

I'm now very pleased to introduce Warren Eisenberg. Warren?

Warren Eisenberg

Thanks, Sue, and good afternoon. Before I get started, I'd like to take this opportunity to again welcome Gerry Elliott to our company's Board of Directors. The company announced their election on February 20 and we are delighted to add her experience and abilities to our Board.

In addition, on behalf of the Board, I'd like to congratulate Gene Castagna on his promotion to Chief Operating Officer and Sue Lattmann on her promotion to Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. As Steven said when he announced their promotions Gene and Sue will continue to help lead and organize our company for future growth and success in their new roles.

Returning to today's call, our press release issued within the past hour showed that our company earned $1.60 per diluted share in the fiscal fourth quarter and $4.79 per diluted share for the 2013 fiscal year ended March 1, 2014 compared with earnings per diluted share of $1.68 and $4.56 in the prior year's fiscal fourth quarter and full year, respectively.

As we previously discussed, the fiscal 2013 results take into account a reduction of approximately S0.06 to $0.07 per diluted share as a result of the disruptive weather in the fourth quarter, the fiscal 2012 results were negatively impacted by hurricane Sandy in the third quarter and included a benefit of approximately $0.05 per diluted share as a result of the 53rd week in the fourth quarter.

During the fourth quarter, we opened three new Bed Bath & Beyond stores, four buybuy Baby stores, one Harmon Face Values store and one Christmas Tree Shops andThat! store. Also, we continued to optimize our operations in a number of trade areas through renovating stores across our concepts and repositioning our stores in various markets which also included the closing of four Cost Plus World Market stores during the quarter.

At March 1, 2014, consolidated store space net of openings and closings for all our concepts was approximately 42.6 million square feet, an increase of approximately 1.4% over the end of last year's fourth quarter. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2013 and currently, we operate 1,496 stores consisting of 1,014 Bed Bath & Beyond stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada; 265 stores under the names World Market, Cost Plus World Market or Cost Plus; 90 buybuy Baby stores; 77 stores under the names Christmas Tree Shops, Christmas Tree Shops andThat! or andThat! and 50 stores under the names Harmon or Harmon Face Values.

During 2014 we anticipate opening approximately 30 new stores companywide. Additionally, we'll continue our program of renovating or repositioning stores within markets when appropriate. As the years progress, the total number of stores that we open will be updated as we gain greater visibility. Also, we were partnered in a joint venture which currently operates four Bed Bath & Beyond stores in the Mexico City market and is planning on opening two new stores during fiscal 2014.

We believe that throughout the United States and Canada there is an opportunity to operate in excess of 1,300 Bed Bath & Beyond stores as well as grow our Cost Plus World Market, Christmas Tree Shops andThat! and buybuy Baby concepts from coast-to-coast. Additionally, we continue to open Harmon Face Values stores and place health and beauty care offerings in selected stores as well as specialty food and beverage departments in selected Bed Bath & Beyond stores.

At the same time, we continue to make substantial capital investments in our online, mobile and social media channels to enhance our customers overall experience. We remain committed to and excited about the continued growth of all our merchandise categories and channels. As we continuously said, the success of our company is due to the tremendous efforts of our associates and our unique decentralized culture.

This culture which takes advantage of the knowledge, the independence and the customer focus of our associates has always been the foundation of our long-term performance and allows us to respond more quickly to market and channel demands and to changing economic conditions. We believe we have the people, the resources and the capabilities to achieve our near and long-term goals.

Now, I'll turn the call over to Steven Temares. Steve?

Steven H. Temares

Thank you, Warren. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for participating in this conference call. As Warren mentioned, despite the period of disruptive weather we experienced this past December, January and February, we are pleased that we've been able to continue our consistent performance in terms of annual earnings per share growth and overall financial strength.

Looking back on 2013 we have made considerable progress in many areas. To mention a few, we enhanced our omnichannel experience for our customers by re-platforming and adding improved functionality to our buybuy Baby and Bed Bath & Beyond websites, initiating a selling component to our Christmas Tree Shops website, re-platforming our mobile sites and apps and growing and developing our IT, analytics, marketing and ecommerce groups to lead our omnichannel initiatives.

Further, we have completed the construction of our new IT data center in North Carolina and now engaged in the ongoing process of equipping the facility which will enhance our disaster recovery capabilities and support our overall IT systems. In addition, we installed energy-efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems in our stores and we continued our ongoing deployment of new and enhanced systems and equipment to allow our stores to take advantage of new technologies and processes.

With respect to 2014, which began on March 2, although we are pleased with our progress on our initiatives to-date, we also know we have more progress to make. As we have noted, this is a period of significant investment for our company and although there are required capital investments and incremental expenses related to these initiatives, which will increase certain expenses as a percentage of net sales in the short term, we are confident we are making the appropriate investments for our company's long-term success.

For this year we plan to continue to add new functionalities and assortments to our selling websites, mobile sites and apps; further development work necessary for a new and more robust point of sale system; continue our deployment of systems and equipment to allow our stores to take advantage of new technologies and processes; continue to strengthen our IT, analytics, marketing and ecommerce groups and open an additional distribution facility for both direct-to-customer and store fulfillment.

We believe based upon the investments we have made and will continue to make that we are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the ongoing evolution to retailing. We currently have the developing ability to take an order in-store, online or through a mobile device and have it fulfilled by in-store customer pickup or shipped direct to the customer from our distribution facilities, stores or vendors and we continue to enhance these capabilities.

In addition, we continue to grow, differentiate and leverage our assortments across all channels, concepts and countries in which we operate while we strive to more efficiently and effectively understand our customers' needs and communicate with them through our growing analytic capabilities and our developing omnichannel marketing approaches. Again, we believe we are well positioned to thrive in an omnichannel retail environment and expect to continue our long-term success.

Turning to our fiscal fourth quarter performance, a 13-week period, which ended on March 1, 2014, we reported net earnings per diluted share of $1.60 compared to $1.68 earned during the 14-week period ending March or which ended March 2, 2013. For all of 2013, which was a 52-week year, net earnings per diluted share of $4.79 compared with net earnings per diluted share of $4.56 earned in 2012, which was a 53-week year.

Net sales for the full year were approximately $11.5 billion, approximately 5.4% higher than in the full year of 2012. Of this increase, approximately 62% was the result of the inclusion of Cost Plus World Market prior to its inclusion in comp store sales and Linen Holdings prior to the anniversary of its acquisition. Approximately 42% was attributable to the increase in comp store sales and approximately 26% was primarily from new stores in the post-acquisition period for Linen Holdings, partially offset by a decrease of approximately 30% from the non-comparable additional weeks in the prior year.

For the fiscal fourth quarter, our comp store sales increased by approximately 1.7% as compared to an increase of approximately 2.5% last year. As we discussed in our press release on March 7, 2014, we estimated our fourth quarter comp store sales were negatively impacted by approximately 2% to 2.5% due to the disruptive weather which resulted in many instances a full or partial days of store closings.

For the fiscal full year, comp store sales increased by approximately 2.4% compared with an increase of approximately 2.7% last year. The increases in comp store sales to each of the fiscal fourth quarter and the full year of 2013 were attributed to increases in the average transaction amounts and to slight increases in the numbers of transactions.

Gross profit for the fiscal fourth quarter was approximately 40.5% to net sales compared to approximately 41% of net sales for the fourth quarter of 2012. Gross profit for the full fiscal year was approximately 39.7% of net sales compared to approximately 40.2% of net sales for the full year of 2012.

These decreases in the gross profit margin as a percentage of net sales were primarily attributed to an increase in coupon expense due to increases in the average weekly coupons redeemed and the average coupon amounts, as well as a shift in the mix of merchandise sold to lower margin categories.

The inclusion of Cost Plus World Market and Linen Holdings for the periods prior to each of their one-year anniversaries did not have a material effect on our gross profit percentage for the fiscal full year of 2013.

Selling, general and administrative expenses for the fiscal fourth quarter were approximately 24% of net sales as compared to approximately 23.4% of net sales in last year's fiscal fourth quarter, an increase of approximately 60 basis points.

For the fiscal full year, selling, general and administrative expenses were approximately 25.7% of net sales, an increase of approximately 50 basis points when compared to approximately 25.2% of net sales in the fiscal full year of 2012.

These increases can primarily be attributed to higher technology expenses and depreciation and payroll and payroll-related costs as a percentage of net sales. The inclusion of Cost Plus World Market and Linen Holdings for the periods prior to each of their one-year anniversaries increased SG&A by approximately 30 basis points for the fiscal full year of 2013.

Reflecting the movements in gross profit margin and SG&A expenses, the operating profit margin for the fiscal fourth quarter was 110 basis points lower than in the same period a year ago. For the fiscal full year, the operating profit margin decreased by approximately 100 basis points. Our provision for income taxes continues to fluctuate as taxable events occur and exposures are reevaluated.

For the fiscal fourth quarter, our provision for income taxes was approximately 36.7% compared to approximately 37.5% for the comparable quarter last year, a decrease of approximately 80 basis points. For the fiscal full year, the provision of income taxes was approximately 36.6% compared to approximately 36.5% for the comparable period last year.

Capital expenditures for the fiscal full year of 2013 were approximately $317 million, principally for new stores, existing store improvements, information technology enhancements, and other projects important to our future, including the major initiatives that I previously mentioned.

While we continue to review and prioritize our capital needs, we remain committed to making the required investments in our company to help position us for our long-term success.

Through our share repurchase programs during the fiscal fourth quarter, we repurchased approximately 7.5 million shares for approximately $532 million. We are pleased that over the last two years, we have returned approximately 89% of our cash flows from operations to our shareholders through our share repurchase programs.

While our company's Board of Directors continues to review our capital structure on an ongoing basis, our strong operations should allow us to continue to invest in our infrastructure and provide financial flexibility.

As always and as we begin a new year, we want to thank our associates throughout our company for their ongoing efforts which produced Bed Bath & Beyond's long-term success. Through their efforts, we look forward to meeting the challenges that lie ahead and to seizing the opportunities to satisfy our customers and by doing so, improving our competitive position in the merchandise categories that we offer.

I'll now turn the call back to Sue. Sue?

Susan E. Lattmann

Thank you, Steve. As you heard from Warren and Steve, we earned $1.60 per diluted share in our fiscal fourth quarter and $4.79 for the full year. We are pleased with our positive fiscal fourth quarter results and we continue to be cautiously optimistic about the coming year.

Turning to fiscal 2014, our planning assumptions for the fiscal first quarter and full year include the following. One, for the fiscal first quarter we are modeling comparable stores sales to increase in the range of 1% to 2.5%. For the full year, we are modeling comparable store sales to increase by approximately 3%.

Two, consolidated net sales are modeled to increase by approximately 2% to 3.5% for the first quarter and approximately 4% for the full year. Three, depreciation for fiscal 2014 is expected to be approximately $240 million. Four, assuming these sales levels, we are modeling deleverage for both gross profit and SG&A for the fiscal first quarter and full year.

Contributing to the modeled gross profit deleverage on an assumed continuation and the shift of the mix of merchandise sold to lower margin categories and an increase in coupon expense. The modeled SG&A deleverage includes increases in technology expense and depreciation related to our ongoing investments.

Five, our annual interest line will include approximately $9.2 million in interest expense, substantially resulting from the inclusion of sale lease backed obligations related to certain distribution centers. Six, the first quarter and full year tax provisions are estimated to be in the mid to high 30s percentage range with expected variability as distinct tax events occur.

Seven, we expect to generate positive operating cash flow and to continue to fund operations entirely from internally generated sources. Eight, we plan to continue to repurchase shares under our $2.5 billion repurchase program, which we estimate to be completed during fiscal 2015. However, this repurchase program may be influenced by several factors including business and market conditions.

Nine; we anticipate opening approximately 30 new stores companywide. As the year progresses, the total number of stores that we will open will be updated as we gain greater visibility. We also will continue to place health and beauty care offerings in selected stores across all our concepts, as well as specialty food and beverage departments in selected Bed Bath & Beyond stores. As always, we remain flexible to take advantage of real estate opportunities that may arise.

Ten; we expect to continue our program of renovating or repositioning stores within markets when appropriate. Eleven; capital expenditures are planned to be approximately $350 million, which remain subject to the timing and composition of projects. Projected capital expenditures include the significant level of investment we will be making in our initiatives and primarily include the addition of new functionality to our selling websites, mobile sites and apps; development work necessary for a new and more robust point-of-sale system; deploying systems and equipment to our stores; equipping our new IT data center; opening an additional distribution facility for direct-to-customer and store fulfillment as well as new stores and existing store refurbishments.

Based on needs and other planning assumptions, we are modeling net earnings per diluted share to be approximately $0.92 to $0.96 for the fiscal first quarter of 2014. For all of fiscal 2014, we are modeling a mid-single-digit percentage increase in net earnings per diluted share.

Before concluding this afternoon's call, a few additional comments relative to our recently concluded fiscal fourth quarter. Our balance sheet and cash flows remain strong. We ended the fiscal year with cash and cash equivalents and investment securities of approximately $943 million. This includes approximately $51 million of investments related to auction rate securities. These securities have an estimated temporary valuation adjustment of approximately $3.3 million to reflect their current lack of liquidity.

Since this valuation adjustment is deemed temporary, it did not affect the company's earnings. We will continue to monitor the market for these securities and will expense any permanent changes to value of our remaining securities, if any, as they occur.

As of March 1, 2014, retail inventories at cost were approximately $2.5 billion or $59.68 per square foot, an increase of approximately 2.7% on a per square foot basis over the end of last year's fourth quarter. Retail inventories continue to be tailored by stores to meet the anticipated demands of our customers and are in good conditions.

Consolidated shareholders' equity at March 1, 2014 was approximately $3.9 billion, which is net of share repurchases , including the approximately $532 million, representing approximately 7.5 million shares repurchased during the fiscal fourth quarter of 2013. As of March 1, 2014 the remaining balance on the current share repurchase program authorized in December 2012 was approximately $1.1 billion.

As a reminder, our next conference call to review operating results for the first quarter ending on May 31, 2014 will be on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. If you have any questions Ken Frankel and I will be in our offices this evening, April 9 to take your calls.

As always, we appreciate your interest in Bed Bath & Beyond.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's conference call. Thank you for listening. You may now disconnect.

Question-and-Answer Session

Copyright policy: All transcripts on this site are the copyright of Seeking Alpha. However, we view them as an important resource for bloggers and journalists, and are excited to contribute to the democratization of financial information on the Internet. (Until now investors have had to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for transcripts.) So our reproduction policy is as follows: You may quote up to 400 words of any transcript on the condition that you attribute the transcript to Seeking Alpha and either link to the original transcript or to www.SeekingAlpha.com. All other use is prohibited.

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE IS A TEXTUAL REPRESENTATION OF THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S CONFERENCE CALL, CONFERENCE PRESENTATION OR OTHER AUDIO PRESENTATION, AND WHILE EFFORTS ARE MADE TO PROVIDE AN ACCURATE TRANSCRIPTION, THERE MAY BE MATERIAL ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR INACCURACIES IN THE REPORTING OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE AUDIO PRESENTATIONS. IN NO WAY DOES SEEKING ALPHA ASSUME ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS MADE BASED UPON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS WEB SITE OR IN ANY TRANSCRIPT. USERS ARE ADVISED TO REVIEW THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S AUDIO PRESENTATION ITSELF AND THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S SEC FILINGS BEFORE MAKING ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS.

If you have any additional questions about our online transcripts, please contact us at: transcripts@seekingalpha.com. Thank you!