The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. announces Q2 FY2016 operating results ended July 30, 2016

YORK, Pa., 2016-Aug-22 — /EPR Retail News/ — The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:BONT) today (August 18, 2016) reported operating results for its fiscal second quarter ended July 30, 2016, and reaffirmed its earnings guidance for the full year fiscal 2016.

Results for the Second Quarter Ended July 30, 2016

  • Comparable store sales decreased 2.0% as compared with the prior year period.
  • Net loss was $38.7 million, or $1.95 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $39.6 million, or $2.01 per diluted share, in the second quarter of fiscal 2015.
  • Adjusted EBITDA totaled $2.5 million, inclusive of $2.2 million of severance costs associated with the Company’s previously announced planned expense reductions and a $2.4 million consulting expense related to cost reduction initiatives. (Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure recognized under generally accepted accounting principles – see the financial table accompanying this release.) Excluding the financial impact of the severance costs and consulting expenses, Adjusted EBITDA would have been $7.1 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2016.In the second quarter of fiscal 2015, Adjusted EBITDA was $5.7 million, including a $0.7 million gain associated with an insurance settlement and $1.0 million of severance costs. Excluding the financial impacts of these items, Adjusted EBITDA would have been $6.0 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2015.

Kathryn Bufano, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We made progress on a number of our strategic initiatives during the second quarter, although the soft mall traffic trends continued to negatively impact our business.  Importantly, we delivered sales gains in our key growth categories and brands, and drove accelerated double digit growth in our omnichannel business, with a triple digit increase on our mobile site.  In addition, we maintained careful inventory controls, as we reduced inventory by 6% with fewer markdowns.  We also continued to make progress on our cost savings plan.”

Ms. Bufano continued, “Looking ahead, we believe that the Fall assortment will be our best to date.  We also expect that our omnichannel business will continue to deliver strong performance. While we are cognizant that the operating environment remains difficult, we believe that we are well positioned for the back half of the year with a strong merchandising assortment, a compelling marketing program focused on new customer acquisition, and continued discipline in inventory management and cost controls.”

Second Quarter Review
Comparable store sales in the second quarter of fiscal 2016 decreased 2.0%.  Total sales in the period decreased 2.4% to $542.4 million, compared with $555.4 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2015.  Sales increases were achieved in Activewear, Big & Tall, Denim, Young Men’s, Young Contemporary Plus, Women’s Better Handbags, Hard Home and Furniture.

The Company achieved accelerated growth in omnichannel, which reflects sales via its website, mobile site, and its Buy Online Pick Up In-Store and Let Us Find It initiatives, as it continued to successfully leverage its West Jefferson facility and expanded store-fulfillment network.

Other income in the second quarter of fiscal 2016 was $16.3 million, an increase of $0.7 million over the comparable prior year period.  The increase was largely the result of higher revenues associated with the Company’s proprietary credit card operations.  Proprietary credit card sales, as a percentage of total sales, increased 390 basis points to 57.1% in the second quarter of fiscal 2016.

Gross profit decreased $6.5 million to $198.1 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2016, primarily as a result of decreased sales volume. The gross margin rate in the second quarter of fiscal 2016 was 36.5% of net sales as compared to 36.8% in the same quarter last year.

Selling, general and administrative (“SG&A”) expense in the second quarter of fiscal 2016 decreased $3.3 million, or 1.5%, to $211.9 million, compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2015. This was largely due to a benefit from a mid-single digit decline in non-customer facing store expenses, partially offset by higher medical claims, as well as severance costs and consulting expenses associated with the Company’s cost reduction initiatives. The SG&A expense rate in the second quarter of 2016 was 39.1% of net sales, an increase of 40 basis points over the prior year, primarily as a result of the decreased sales volume in the period. Excluding the severance and consulting costs in the second quarter of fiscal 2016, as well as the severance costs in the second quarter of fiscal 2015, SG&A expense in the second quarter of fiscal 2016 decreased $6.9 million from the comparable prior year period, and the SG&A expense rate leveraged 40 basis points, to 38.2%.

As of July 30, 2016 , the Company had approximately $225 million of borrowing capacity under its revolving credit facility and expects to decrease debt by approximately $40 million to $50 million by the end of the year.

Guidance
For fiscal 2016, loss per diluted share is expected to be in a range of $0.95 to $1.45. The Company continues to expect Adjusted EBITDA in a range of$130 million to $140 million.  (As used in this release, Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure recognized under GAAP – see the accompanying financial table which reconciles this non-GAAP measure to net loss.)

ABL Refinancing
As announced earlier this week, the Company successfully closed a new $150 million ABL Term Loan that replaces the existing $100 million A-1 Tranche of the Company’s credit facility and increases the total commitment under the facility to $880 million. The Company will use approximately $75 million of the net proceeds to reduce all amounts currently outstanding under the existing A-1 Tranche of its credit facility which matures in December 2018. The balance of the net proceeds will be used to enhance the Company’s liquidity and retire the remaining approximately $57 million of its Senior Notes due in July 2017.

Call Details
The Company’s quarterly conference call to discuss second quarter fiscal 2016 results will be broadcast live today at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time.  Investors and analysts interested in participating in the call are invited to dial (888) 208-1361 at 9:55 a.m. Eastern time and reference conference ID 7684146.  A taped replay of the conference call will be available within two hours of the conclusion of the call and will remain available through August 25, 2016.  The number to call for the taped replay is (877) 870-5176 and the replay PIN is 7684146.  The conference call will also be broadcast on the Company’s website at http://investors.bonton.com.  An online archive of the webcast will be available within two hours of the conclusion of the call.

About The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.
The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., with corporate headquarters in York, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, operates 267 stores, which includes nine furniture galleries and four clearance centers, in 26 states in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers nameplates.  The stores offer a broad assortment of national and private brand fashion apparel and accessories for women, men and children, as well as cosmetics and home furnishings.  For further information, please visit the investor relations section of the Company’s website at http://investors.bonton.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain information included in this press release contains statements that are forward-looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements, which may be identified by words such as “may,” “could,” “will,” “plan,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “project,” “intend” or other similar expressions and include the Company’s fiscal 2016 guidance, involve important risks and uncertainties that could significantly affect results in the future and, accordingly, such results may differ from those expressed in any forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of the Company. Factors that could cause such differences include, but are not limited to: risks related to retail businesses generally; a significant and prolonged deterioration of general economic conditions which could negatively impact the Company in a number of ways, including the potential write-down of the current valuation of intangible assets and deferred taxes; risks related to the Company’s proprietary credit card program; potential increases in pension obligations; consumer spending patterns, debt levels, and the availability and cost of consumer credit; additional competition from existing and new competitors or changes in the competitive environment; inflation; deflation; changes in the costs of fuel and other energy and transportation costs; weather conditions that could negatively impact sales; uncertainties associated with expanding or remodeling existing stores; the ability to attract and retain qualified management; the dependence upon relationships with vendors and their factors; a data security breach or system failure; the ability to reduce or control SG&A expenses, including initiatives to reduce expenses and improve efficiency; operational disruptions; unsuccessful marketing initiatives; the ability to expand our capacity and improve efficiency through our new eCommerce fulfillment center; changes in, or the failure to successfully implement, our key strategies, including initiatives to improve our merchandising, marketing and operations; adverse outcomes in litigation; the incurrence of unplanned capital expenditures; the ability to obtain financing for working capital, capital expenditures and general corporate purposes; the impact of regulatory requirements including the Health Care Reform Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; the inability or limitations on the Company’s ability to favorably adjust the valuation allowance on deferred tax assets; and the financial condition of mall operators.  Additional factors that could cause the Company’s actual results to differ from those contained in these forward-looking statements are discussed in greater detail under Item 1A of the Company’s Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CONTACT:
Investor Relations:
Wendy Wilson
414-347-5153
Wendy.Wilson@bonton.com

Source: The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. /GLOBE NEWSWIRE