Categories Consumer, Earnings Call Transcripts

Buckle Inc. (BKE) Q1 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

BKE Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) Q1 2021 earnings call dated May. 21, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Kelli Molczyk — Vice President, Women’s Merchandising

Robert M. Carlberg — Senior Vice President, Men’s Merchandising

Analysts:

Steven Marotta — C.L. King & Associates — Analyst

Wang — — Analyst

Kyle Kavanaugh — Palisade Capital — Analyst

Unidentified Participant — — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, thank you for standing by. And welcome to the Buckle’s 2021 First Quarter Earnings Release.

Members of the Buckle’s management on the call today are Dennis Nelson, President and CEO; Tom Heacock, Senior Vice President of Finance, Treasurer and CFO; Kelli Molczyk, Vice President of Women’s Merchandising; Bob Carlberg, Senior Vice President of Men’s Merchandising; Brady Fritz, Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Security — Secretary, excuse me, as they review the operating results for the first quarter, which ended May 1.

They would like to reiterate their policy of not giving future sales or earnings guidance and have the following Safe Harbor statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All forward-looking statements made by the company involve material risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on factors which may be beyond the company’s control.

Accordingly, the company’s future performance and financial results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to, those described in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company does not undertake to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements even if the experience or future changes make it clear that any projected results expressed or implied therein will not be realized.

Additionally, the company does not authorize the reproduction or dissemination of transcripts or audio recordings of the company’s quarterly conference calls without its expressed written consent. Any unauthorized reproductions or recording of the call should not be relied upon as the information may be inaccurate.

And at this time, I’d like to turn the conference over to our host, Mr. Tom Heacock. Please go ahead.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Good morning and thanks for joining us this morning. Our May 21, 2021 press release reported that net income for the 13-week first quarter ended May 1, 2021 was $57.3 million or $1.16 per share on a diluted basis, which compares to a net loss of $11.8 million or $0.24 per share on a diluted basis for the prior year 13-week first quarter ended May 2, 2020 and net income of $15.1 million or $0.31 per share on a diluted basis for the first quarter of fiscal 2019.

Net sales for the 13-week first quarter increased 159.2% to $299.1 million from net sales of $115.4 million for the prior year 13-week first quarter. Compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2019, net sales increased 48.6% from sales of $201.3 million. Online sales for the quarter were $53.7 million, an increase of 67.3% compared to $32.1 million in the first quarter of 2020 and an increase of 120% compared to $24.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. Again, compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2019, UPTs decreased approximately 0.5%. The average unit retail increased approximately 4.5% and the average transaction value increased about 3.5%.

Gross margin for the quarter was 49.3% compared to 23.2% in the first quarter of 2020 and 38.1% in the first quarter of 2019. The increase in gross margin compared to 2019 was the result of a 315-basis-point improvement in merchandise margins, coupled with significantly leveraged occupancy buying and distribution costs as a result of the strong sales performance for the quarter.

Selling, general and administrative expenses for the quarter were 24% of net sales compared to 37.2% for the first quarter of 2020 and 28.8% for the first quarter of 2019. The reduction compared to 2019 is the result of a 560-basis-point improvement in store labor-related expenses and a 50-basis-point reduction in travel costs, along with 190 basis points of leverage across several other SG&A expenses. These savings were partially offset by a 205-basis-point increase related to incentive compensation accruals, a 75-basis-point increase in shipping costs due to our continued strong e-commerce performance, a 20-basis-point increase in equity compensation expense and a 20-basis-point increase in marketing-related expenses.

Our operating margin for the quarter was 25.3% compared to negative 14% for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 and 9.3% for the first quarter of 2019. Our effective tax rate was 24.5% for the first quarter of each of the three years, bringing first quarter net income to $57.3 million for 2021 compared to a net loss of $11.8 million for 2020 and net income of $15.1 million for 2019.

Our press release also included a balance sheet as of May 1, 2021, which included the following: inventory of $89 million, which was down from inventory of $121.7 million as of May 2, 2020 and $120.8 million as of May 4, 2019 and total cash and investments of $412.9 million. We ended the quarter with $100 million in fixed assets net of accumulated depreciation.

Our capital expenditures for the quarter were $4.6 million and depreciation expense was $4.8 million. Year-to-date capital spending is broken down as follows: $4.1 million for new store construction, store remodels and technology upgrades; and $0.5 million for capital spending at the corporate headquarters and distribution center.

During the quarter, we completed five full remodels, all of which were relocations and new outdoor shopping centers and we also closed one store. For the year, we plan on opening one new youth store, completing six additional full remodel projects and also have one planned store closure later this month. Based on current store plans, we still expect our capital expenditures to be in the range of $10 million to $15 million, which includes both planned store projects and IT investments.

Buckle ended the quarter with 442 retail stores in 42 states compared to 446 stores in 42 states at the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2020.

And now, I’ll turn it over to Kelli Molczyk, Vice President of Women’s Merchandising.

Kelli Molczyk — Vice President, Women’s Merchandising

Thanks, Tom. I would like to start by highlighting the performance of our women’s merchandise categories for the quarter. Please note that due to the disruption in the prior year, all sales comparisons will be against the first quarter of 2019.

Women’s merchandise sales for the fiscal quarter were up approximately 46.5% against the first quarter of fiscal 2019. For the quarter, our women’s business was approximately 49% of sales. Average denim price points for the quarter were $76.20 compared to $75.85 in the first quarter of 2020 and $76.70 in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Overall price points for the quarter were $45.50 compared to $44 in Q1 of 2020 and $42.65 in the first quarter of 2019.

In reviewing our first quarter results, we continue to be pleased with how the women’s product is resonating with our guests and our teammates. Denim continues to perform nicely in a wide variety of fit from traditional to fashion, finishes from clean to busted, fabrics from super stretched to rigid and bottom openings from skinny to flair. Our full length denim alternatives and crops and shorts also continue to perform well as we all gradually transition to more out of the home living, we saw nice upticks to our fashion top mix, our graphic tees, fashion and casual footwear and accessories as guests look to step out with their best fashion foot forward.

Our private label footprint continues to expand in all categories, creating one of a kind product fit for our guests. Our regular-priced business continues to drive sales with our markdown inventory representing a smaller percentage of this total. The exclusive product mix, combined with more regular-priced sales, have had a positive impact on our merchandise margins. In addition, with the enhancements to our omni-channel experience, we saw nice gains in our online business through the quarter.

With the sales performance beating our plan, the team worked extremely hard throughout the quarter to fill-in any gaps in product flow by chasing in-season available goods from our valued partners as well as working through early shipments where applicable. Those at-once goods, in conjunction with the steady flow of new planned spring inventory, continue to set our stores up with fresh products for our guests. We continue to plan for a healthy flow of newness through the second quarter to prepare our stores for the back-to-school season.

And with that, I’ll turn it over to Bob Carlberg, Senior Vice President of Men’s Merchandising, to discuss the performance of our Men’s Merchandise category.

Robert M. Carlberg — Senior Vice President, Men’s Merchandising

Thank you, Kelli. Men’s Merchandise sales for the fiscal quarter were up 48.5% in comparison to the first quarter of fiscal 2019. For the quarter, our Men’s business was approximately 51% of net sales. Average denim price points for the quarter were $86.20 compared to $84.85 in the first quarter of 2020 and $86.70 in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Overall price points for the quarter were $50.20 compared to $50.95 in Q1 2020 and $50.60 in Q1 2019.

Q1 was a great quarter where all departments were up compared to 2019. Denim provided our largest growth in dollars with footwear and use [Phonetic] showing the largest percentage gains. The strong denim performance was across the board with particular strength in BKE and Salvage, both of which are exclusive to the Buckle. Rock revival also had an amazing quarter and our street brands continued their growth as a percent of the total assortment.

In accessories, hats, Oakley sunglasses and fragrance led the way. The team has been working quickly to replenish our inventory position throughout Q1 and into Q2, given the incredible guest response to new receipts going all the way back to Q3 of 2020. Our team just did an incredible job of working with our brands and sources to get enough product to sustain an incredible quarter of growth. Our usual low level of markdown inventory is even lower giving us the ability to manage risk while we work to add more inventory. Our strong partnerships with the branding sources put us first in line to get product made and delivered faster than our competitors.

During the quarter, there were many challenges in the supply chain overall that we have been able to deliver most products on time with only a small percentage of products being two-plus weeks late.

Now, turning to results on a combined basis, accessory sales for the fiscal quarter were up approximately 50% against the first quarter of fiscal 2019, footwear sales were up about 118.5%. These two categories accounted for approximately 8.5% and 11% respectively of first quarter net sales. This compares to 8.5% and 7.5% for each in the first quarter of fiscal 2019.

Average accessory price points are up approximately 6%, while average footwear price points were down about 2% compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Again, on a combined basis for the quarter, denim accounted for approximately 42% of sales and tops accounted for approximately 26%. This compares to 46% and 27.5% for each in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 and 42.5% and 30% in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. For the quarter, our private label business represented approximately 38% of sales.

And with that, we welcome your questions. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And our first question will come from the line of Steven Marotta representing C.L. King & Associates. Please go ahead, sir.

Steven Marotta — C.L. King & Associates — Analyst

Good morning, everybody. I’d just like to speak a little bit about the supply chain. You mentioned in some places it’s running about two weeks behind. Can you talk a little bit about maybe where it was at the beginning of the quarter, where it is now and when you think the point of this year where we’ll reach equilibrium?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Hi. Good morning, Steve. Thank you for the question. Bob, do you want to address the men’s product first?

Robert M. Carlberg — Senior Vice President, Men’s Merchandising

Sure. We thought we kind of moved I think quicker than others and — and had things on order earlier to kind of already take into account the fact that there would be some changes in shipping that we knew about ahead of time. So, overall, I don’t think it’s going to have an immaterial impact on our deliveries going forward. And we should be building inventory in the next couple of months.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Kelli, do you have anything to add?

Kelli Molczyk — Vice President, Women’s Merchandising

No. I mean, I would echo what Bob said. We had fairly very little impact from the first quarter. A few partners ran into some challenges. But overall, we feel we fared fairly well and we’ll continue to do so as we move forward.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Steve, I might add that…

Steven Marotta — C.L. King & Associates — Analyst

That’s helpful. Yeah.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. I might add that with a very strong fourth quarter as well as the huge gains in March and April, it’s been a good problem for us to have. And the good news is, all the product we’re bringing in now continues to be fresh and we have good sales history in the past six months to develop product on.

Steven Marotta — C.L. King & Associates — Analyst

That’s helpful. Can you talk about your online penetration, maybe in its current form as latest as you can. I don’t know if you want to take the whole quarter or whether you want to take April as a proxy month, but where is it at this moment in time? Are you seeing more strength in bricks-and-mortar as retail is reopening or is up on a dollar basis, I’m assuming digital is holding its own. Maybe you could just talk a little bit about the puts and takes there?

Robert M. Carlberg — Senior Vice President, Men’s Merchandising

Yes. I believe April, Tom, was the — brick-and-mortar was up 38%. Is that correct?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

I think for the whole quarter and that’s part of the story. We’ve seen growth in both online and the stores. I mean, seeing guests really excited to be back in the stores for the whole quarter, in-store sales were up over 35% which was incredible. And coupled with our online growth, we have some difficult comparisons for online growth to a year-ago for the periods where the stores were closed. But for the whole first quarter, I mean, our online sales were about 18% of sales. And that’s certainly a level we feel comfortable with and want to continue to grow. I think our best guess — and we’re seeing a lot of growth is omni-channel guests or guests that are shopping both in-store and online and are seeing a nice growth there, along with obviously new guests and reactivated guests. So, a lot of good things with our online business and in-store.

Steven Marotta — C.L. King & Associates — Analyst

That’s very helpful. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Speakers, I’m not getting anybody else queuing up right now.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

If there’s no questions, we can — we’ll wrap it up quickly today and give everyone some time back and hope everyone enjoys the day and has a wonderful weekend. Thank you very much.

Operator

We did get one more person to queue up right at the end. Would you like to take that?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Sure.

Operator

Okay. Mr. Wang [Phonetic], please go ahead, sir.

Wang — — Analyst

All right. Good morning. Thanks for taking my question. So, many of you appear, already talked about the big impact from the stimulus checks. Just wondering, if you have a way of measure, how big of that impact is in March and April sales? And more importantly, going into the second half of the year, you mentioned back-to-school and there’s a holiday season too. Certainly we are not getting any more stimulus checks. How do you think about our sales trend? Are they going to be continuing to going upwards compared to 2019 or what are you thinking of — or planning to do to drive that uptrend? Just want to get some thoughts from you, guys. Thank you.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

So, I believe the trend, we won’t try to predict the future. But since the fourth quarter of 2019 and even before, we had a lot of very good things going on in our company. Our teams — our merchandising teams have that great product and response from the guests. Our sales teams have been creating excellent experience. Our marketing continues to improve. The IT team has made the shopping online even more satisfying for everyone. And so, we’re just really excited on what everyone’s accomplished over the last year-and-a-half and looking forward to the future.

Wang — — Analyst

All right. Thank you.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question will come from the line of Kyle Kavanaugh representing Palisade Capital. Please go ahead, Mr. Kavanaugh.

Kyle Kavanaugh — Palisade Capital — Analyst

Good morning, everybody.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Hi, Kyle.

Kyle Kavanaugh — Palisade Capital — Analyst

Thanks for the call today. I have a question about clearly the environment is still different. We’re on the other side of last year and you’re seeing all of the benefits are coming along with that. And some of that’s coming through on your margins and you referenced some of the benefits you’re getting whether or not it’s merchandising margins and full price selling.

And then also, I think on your call last time, you referenced real estate was a benefit and you were able to negotiate some of your real estate dynamics as well. So, I’m just curious — I know you don’t want to forecast like sales trends going forward, but I’m curious about the productivity of the company and the ability to sustain margins going forward. Is there some of these benefits you’re receiving right now sustainable or some of them aren’t going to be given back as we even normalize in the second half of this year or into ’22. I was wondering if you can expand upon those thoughts a little bit.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. I think that’s hard to say. And thank you for the question, Kyle. I mean, in terms of merchandise margins and looking at markdown inventory at the end of the quarter, I mean we’re — Bob and Kelli both covered that were particularly low. So, we’re always seeking improvements in merchandise margins looking at what we can do from a sourcing perspective, but difficult to project. And that’s been the answer for the last, I mean, several years. And we’ve maintained merchandise margin at a really high level and continued to build on those.

In terms of the rest of the cost structure, looking at a lot of the areas where we got benefit, we talked about rent. We have worked to reduce rents over the last several years. They are seeing the benefit of that and that will continue out into the future. In terms of the reduced rents, we’re also looking for opportunities to move stores out of underperforming malls into outdoor power centers lifestyle centers, that’s been a positive thing both for rent and then the presentation of product in those stores and the results of those stores. So, we had five of those remodels in the first quarter, I think three last year and we’ll continue with that strategy going forward.

The other big pieces is store labor. And that’s been a big focus going back for several years. We’ve had nice improvement there. I don’t think we’ll continue to see it at the level we did in the first quarter. And with sales far exceeding plan, I mean it’s really close to holiday level of business and certainly we weren’t staffed to holiday. And so, the teams have been hiring and working hard and running really fast to take care of our guests. But I don’t think we’d expect that same level of leverage on store payroll, but certainly we’ll continue to be as smart as we can and we’ll see — hopefully see some leverage and continue to focus on that.

Kyle Kavanaugh — Palisade Capital — Analyst

Just a couple more questions. Are you able to give your traffic — like traffic in the inline stores? I know you gave the comparable store sales. I mean, actually you didn’t give a comparison. But could you give traffic levels in the — for the quarter?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

We don’t have traffic counters in our stores. So it’s difficult and we don’t have specific traffic metrics to share for our stores.

Kyle Kavanaugh — Palisade Capital — Analyst

Okay. And then, with your vendors, just kind of — are they seeing any supply chain [Technical Issues] or what is kind of — what has been the — I’m just curious, you said you have enough sales data now to forecast on where you want to go in merchandise. But it is early, so I’m — just kind of, is everything selling well because you have very low inventories and everything is new to the customer or is it — they’re actually like a fashion trends at exist rate, kind of just some dynamics around there?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

I think it’s pretty much product focused. I mean, as Kelli mentioned in her presentation, there’s a lot of fun, exciting things going on in the gals denim area with different silhouettes. Denim short is working well, the variety of tops and such has been very well received. That’s been great. On the men’s side, denim has been very good as well. The short business, their selection has been very well received as well as our knit business in both categories have been excellent.

The footwear has been on trend. And so, the team has just done a very good job. And our staff in the stores have been getting behind it. Our vendors for the most part will be helping us catch up. They have certain challenges naturally as the production goes. But overall, we think we’ll be in good shape as we continue through the season.

Kyle Kavanaugh — Palisade Capital — Analyst

Okay. And just one last question on the labor side. Would you characterize yourself as staffed well enough for today’s environment? And then, as we move throughout the year, do you need to increase staff with in-stores or online or both?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Let’s say, in the majority of our stores, they’re in pretty good shape on the staffing needs. Certainly as we go to the back half of the year, we’re always looking to add people. And there might be certain markets that it’s more of a challenge than others, but we’ve got a great working environment, an exciting company and can be competitive. So, we don’t see that as a huge problem.

Kyle Kavanaugh — Palisade Capital — Analyst

Could I ask, are you paying minimum wage or have you moved your labor scales at all?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. We’ve raised our base wage and then its commission. So, some of the new teammates to be guaranteed minimum or their base plus commission whichever is better. And then we have more experienced staff that would be at higher levels.

Kyle Kavanaugh — Palisade Capital — Analyst

Okay. All right. Thank you so much everybody. Appreciate it.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you. Yeah.

Operator

And we do have a follow-up from Mr. — or we have a question now from Mr. Hillenbrand [Phonetic], who is a private investor. Please go ahead. Your line is open. Mr. Hillenbrand?

Unidentified Participant — — Analyst

Thank you. I’d just like to get some information on the growth of your online sales and how your net margins online are compared to your sales in-store and just what the trends have been as far as that goes?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

In terms of margins, they’re pretty comparable, there’s not a lot of difference in the product or the merchandise margins of the goods that we have online and what we have in-store. In terms of growth that we’ve seen, a big part of the story is that the omni capabilities that we’ve added over the last several years and exposing all of our in-store inventory to be available for sale online. And so, shipped from store has been a big part of our online growth and again really expanding the inventory giving the guests a better selection of product, reducing stock outs online. And that’s been a big driver.

Unidentified Participant — — Analyst

Okay. Got it.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

It does, yes.

Operator, do we have more questions?

Operator

And there’s no other participants queued up at this time, gentlemen.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Would you like to conclude the call?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vice President-Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Now we’ll wrap it up unless we get any more last minute questions. But thank you everybody for participating and have a wonderful day.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Disclaimer

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