Chico's beats analysts' estimates with robust third quarter

Chico’s corporate headquarters in Fort Myers. The company has grown from a small retailer with 12 shops and 14 franchises to a publicly traded company with more than 1,000 stores.

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Chico’s corporate headquarters in Fort Myers. The company has grown from a small retailer with 12 shops and 14 franchises to a publicly traded company with more than 1,000 stores.

Chico’s stock price dropped 14 cents (0.77 percent) Tuesday to close at $18.02 a share.

— Chico’s FAS Inc. heads into the busy holiday shopping season with a financial boost.

The Fort Myers-based women’s clothing retailer’s net income of $41.7 million was a 57 percent increase in the third quarter compared to last year, Chico’s executives revealed in a conference call Tuesday.

Net sales also increased in the third quarter, to $636.7 million from $538.5 million — an 18 percent jump.

“We planned for a strong performance in the third quarter and we more than delivered,” said Dave Dyer, Chico’s FAS chief executive officer, in the conference call.

Chico’s executives expect the holiday shopping season to especially propel sales at Soma Intimates, the company’s intimate apparel store, where shoppers gobble up robes, slippers, pajamas and other clothing.

“Soma is more of a fourth-quarter business compared to the other brands,” Dyer said.

The company reported earnings per diluted share of 25 cents, an increase of nearly 39 percent compared to 18 cents per diluted share in the 2011 third quarter. That’s the highest third-quarter earnings per share since 2005, Chico’s reported.

Earnings per diluted share is a metric used to gauge a company’s financial performance.

The adjusted earnings per share and quarterly revenues topped analysts’ expectations.

Dyer said the company continues opening new stores every year, with a goal eventually of 600 or more Soma stores.

The company already operates more than 600 Chico’s boutiques and 83 outlets, 364 White House/Black Market boutiques and 27 outlets, and 164 Soma Intimates boutiques and 17 outlets, in the U.S., District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

“In new stores this year, we opened 45 stores,” Dyer said of Soma stores. “We’re on a pretty good pace there.”

He also said outlet stores hold their own compared to non-outlet stores, pointing to the Soma at Miromar Outlets in Estero as an example of one of the company’s strongest outlet stores near four or five of its “front-line” stores.

“All are growing very nicely together,” Dyer said. “Outlets are a very strong part of our business. We see them as a continued growth vehicle.”

The fourth Chico’s company brand is Boston Proper, a website the company bought in 2011 with plans to open stores soon — including one on Fifth Avenue South in Naples and at Coconut Point mall in Estero.

The company already operates more than 600 Chico’s boutiques and 83 outlets, 364 White House/Black Market boutiques and 27 outlets, and 164 Soma Intimates boutiques and 17 outlets, in the U.S., District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Net sales from Chico’s/Soma Intimates increased to $412 million from $357 million in the prior-year quarter. White House/Black Market net sales totaled $197 million, up from $170 million in the year-ago quarter. Boston Proper sales grew to $28 million from $11 million in 2011, Chico’s reported Tuesday.

Chico’s/Soma Intimates’ comparable sales grew 11.6 percent, and White House/Black Market brands’ comparable sales increased 6.4 percent.

Accessories will continue to remain a main part of Chico’s emphasis, said Donna Colaco, brand president for White House/Black Market.

Cynthia Murray, brand president of Chico’s, agreed.

“Chico’s remains in the same position. In our segment and the market we own this category and we’ll continue to dominate,” Murray said. “Jewelry will be the most significant focus for us moving forward.”

Chico’s stock price dropped 14 cents (0.77 percent) Tuesday to close at $18.02 a share.

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Chico's FAS Inc. heads into the busy holiday shopping season with a financial boost.

The Fort Myers-based women's clothing retailer's net income of $41.7 million was a 57 percent increase in the third quarter compared to last year, Chico's executives revealed in a conference call Tuesday.

Net sales also increased in the third quarter, to $636.7 million from $538.5 million — an 18 percent jump.

Chico's executives expect the holiday shopping season to especially propel sales at Soma Intimates, the company's intimate apparel store, where shoppers gobble up robes, slippers, pajamas and other clothing.

"Soma is a more of a fourth quarter business compared to the other brands," said Dave Dyer, Chico's FAS chief executive officer, in the conference call.

The company reported earnings per diluted share of 25 cents, an increase of nearly 39 percent compared to 18 cents per diluted share in the 2011 third quarter. That's the highest third-quarter earnings per share since 2005, Chico's reported.

Earnings per diluted share is a metric used to gauge a company's financial performance.

The adjusted earnings per share and quarterly revenues topped analysts' expectations.

Dyer said the company continues opening new stores every year, with a goal eventually of 600 or more stores.

The company already operates more than 600 Chico's boutiques and 83 outlets, 364 White House/Black Market boutiques and 27 outlets, and 164 Soma Intimates boutiques and 17 outlets, in the U.S., the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"In new stores this year, we opened 45 stores," Dyer said. "We're on a pretty good pace there."

He also said outlet stores hold their own compared to nonoutlet stores, pointing to the Soma at Miromar Outlets in Estero as an example of one of the company's strongest outlet stores near four or five of its "front-line" stores.

"All are growing very nicely together," Dyer said. "Outlets are a very strong part of our business. We see them as a continued growth vehicle."

The fourth Chico's company brand is Boston Proper, a website the company bought in 2011 with plans to open stores soon — including one on Fifth Avenue South in Naples and at Coconut Point mall in Estero.

Net sales from Chico's/Soma Intimates increased to $412 million from $357 million in the prior-year quarter. White House/Black Market net sales totaled $197 million, up from $170 million in the year-ago quarter. Boston Proper sales grew to $28 million from $11 million in 2011, Chico's reported Tuesday.

Chico's/Soma Intimates' comparable sales grew 11.6 percent, and White House/Black Market brands' comparable sales increased 6.4 percent.

Accessories will continue to remain a main part of Chico's emphasis, said Donna Noce, brand president for White House/Black Market.

Cinny Murray, brand president of Chico's, agreed.

"Jewelry will be the most significant focus moving forward," she said.

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