Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Retail

The Buckle, Inc. (BKE) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

BKE Earnings Call - Final Transcript

The Buckle, Inc. (NYSE: BKE) Q3 2021 earnings call dated Nov. 19, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vicre President – Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Kelli Molczyk — Vice President – Women’s Merchandising

Bob Carlberg — Senior Vice President of Men’s Merchandising

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Analysts:

Jon Braatz — Kansas City Capital — Analyst

Peter Brotchie — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to Buckle’s Third Quarter Earnings Release. At this point, all the participant lines are in a listen-only mode. However, there will be an opportunity for your questions. Instructions will be given at that time. As a reminder, this call is being recorded.

Members of 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; and Brady Fritz, Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. As they review the operating results for the third quarter, which ended October 30, they would like to reiterate their policy of not giving future sales or earnings guidance and have the following safe harbor statement. 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 any 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 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 recordings of the call should not be relied upon as the information may be inaccurate.

With that, I’ll turn it over to Mr. Tom Heacock. Please go ahead, sir.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vicre President – Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Good morning and thanks for being with us this morning. Our November 19, 2021 press release report that net income for the 13-week third quarter ended October 30, 2021 was $62.2 million or $1.26 per share on a diluted basis compared with net income of $41.6 million, or $0.85 per share on a diluted basis for the prior year 13-week third quarter, which ended October 31, 2020. Year-to-date net income for the 39-week period ended October 30, 2021 was $170.9 million or $3.46 per share on a diluted basis compared to net income of $64.5 million or $1.32 per share on a diluted basis for the prior-year 39-week period ended October 31, 2020.

Net sales for the 13-week third quarter increased 27.3% to $319.4 million compared to net sales of $251 million for the prior-year 13-week third quarter. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 27.3% in comparison to the same 13-week period in the prior year and online sales increased 9% to $50.5 million. Year-to-date net sales increased 56.9% to $913.7 million for the 39-week fiscal period ended October 30, 2021 compared with net sales of $582.4 million for the prior-year 39-week fiscal period ended October 31, 2020.

Comparable store sales for the year-to-date period were up 56.7% in comparison to the same 39-week period in the prior year and online sales year-to-date increased 18.7% to $147.7 million. For the quarter, UPTs decreased approximately 3.5%, the average unit retail increased approximately 1% and the average transaction value decreased about 2.5%. Year-to-date UPTs decreased approximately 3%, the average unit retail increased approximately 2.5% and the average transaction value decreased approximately 0.5%.

Gross margin for the quarter was 50.4%, up from 36.6% [Phonetic] in the third quarter of 2020. Our year-to-date gross margin was 49.3% compared to 40.7% for the same period last year. The third quarter increase in gross margin was the result of a 65 basis point improvement in merchandise margins coupled with 315 basis points of leverage 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 24.7% of net sales compared to 25% for the third quarter of 2020 and year-to-date SG&A was 24.6% of net sales, down from 26.4% for the same period last year. The third quarter decrease was due to a 90 basis point decrease in store labor-related expenses and 85 basis points of leverage across several other SG&A expense, which were partially offset by a 145 basis point increase in incentive and equity compensation accruals.

Our operating margin for the quarter was 25.7% compared to 21.6% for the third quarter of fiscal 2020 and for the year-to-date period, our operating margin was 24.7% compared to 14.3% for the same period last year.

Income tax expense as a percentage of pretax net income for both the current and prior-year fiscal quarter was 24.5% bringing third-quarter net income to $62.2 million for fiscal 2021 versus $41.6 million for fiscal 2020. Income tax expense as a percentage of pretax net income for both the current and prior-year year-to-date period was also 24.5% bringing year-to-date net income to $170.9 million for 2021 compared to $64.5 million for fiscal 2020.

Our press release also included a balance sheet as of October 30, 2021 which includes the following. Inventory of $100.6 million which was down from inventory of $118.7 million as of October 31, 2020 and total cash and investments of $500.1 million. We ended the quarter with $99.3 million in fixed assets, net of accumulated depreciation. Our capital expenditures for the quarter were $3 million and depreciation expense was $4.3 million. For the year-to-date period, capital expenditures were $12.2 million and depreciation expense was $14 million.

Year-to-date capital spending is broken down as follows, $11.5 million for new store construction, store remodels and technology upgrades and $0.7 million for capital spending at the corporate headquarters and distribution center.

During the quarter, we completed three full remodels, each of which were relocations in the new outdoor shopping centers and closed one store. This brings our year-to-date totals to one new store, 10 full remodels and three store closures. For the remainder of the year, we anticipate completing eight additional full remodeling projects. Based on current store plans, we now expect our capital expenditures to be in the range of $17 million to $20 million, which includes both planned store projects and IT investments.

Buckle ended the quarter with 441 retail stores in 42 states compared with 446 stores in 42 states at the end of the third quarter last year.

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’d like to start by highlighting the performance of our women’s merchandise categories for the quarter. Women’s merchandise sales for the fiscal quarter were up approximately 26% against the prior-year fiscal quarter. For the quarter, our Women’s business was approximately 48% sales compared to 48.5% in the prior year. Average denim price points decreased from $75.15 in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 to $74.25 in the third quarter of fiscal ’21. And overall average women’s price points increased about 3.5% from $44.10 to $45.65.

We are excited to report another strong quarter of Women’s business. We continue to see a nice response to our denim selection as we expanded into more fits, provided an expanded range of bottom openings and continued to build upon our private label assortment. As with many other categories, new arrivals for denim were heavily impacted by supply chain disruptions. In particular, deliveries from our higher price point denim brands like Rock Revival and Miss Me were impacted the most due to broad closures in Vietnam. Some of our other denim brands also saw slight delays in shipping during the quarter.

For other categories, product with the fashion fair [Phonetic] performed best. Plaids, third layers, dressy tops, graphic tees, boots and fashion accessories were key drivers. We remained focused on building our private label selection across all categories, while also continuing to introduce new brands in strategic markets.

Our youth business continues to build with denim and knits driving sales. For youth offering that same unique mix that we do in our women’s product has been well received. With ongoing supply chain challenges, we continue to work very closely with all of our manufacturers and brand partners to minimize the potential impacts. Our unique assortment sourced from a variety of brands and vendor partners enables us to be agile in our planning and buying. As a result, the site disruptions are — to our plans, we were able to react quickly to the changing environment and still deliver newness across all women’s business.

Additionally, our strong sell-through performance created opportunities for us to add in existing in-season product. Footwear as a category were being diversified in our brands and looks has been greatly benefited our ability to continue to drive sales in spite of some challenges in getting new receipts as planned from brands like Hey Dude and SOREL. It’s important to again thank our vendors and brands for their partnership as we all are challenged to work a little bit differently. And to the Women’s buying team, I honestly cannot give them enough credit for all their hard work and hustle to stay on top of an ever-changing time in retail.

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

Bob Carlberg — Senior Vice President of Men’s Merchandising

Thank you, Kelli. Men’s merchandise sales for the fiscal quarter were up 28% against the prior-year fiscal quarter. For the quarter, our men’s business was approximately 52% of net sales compared to 51.5% in the prior year. Average denim price points decreased from $84.60 in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 to $81.55 in the third quarter of fiscal 2021. And overall, average men’s price points decreased about 1% from $49.55 to $49.15. Our men’s business had another outstanding quarter with unit sales in each department up over 20%.

Demand was strong across all brands and lifestyles. One of Buckle’s greatest strengths is the diversity of guests we can serve. If one brand or lifestyle is late, we are able to help the guest see substitutions that makes sense for them. Our new color palettes, fabrics and styling across all categories were very well received by our guests. As we all know, getting product to our doors has taken more planning and work than ever. Our team and partners have managed it very well and we have been catching up on inventory, month to month as we move through fall and prepare for holiday.

Outside of Rock Revival denim, we had very little men’s product disrupted by the countrywide shutdowns in Vietnam. Even with the large delay in our Rock deliveries, we continued growing denim in the double digits with denim being the largest dollar gain followed by knits.

During the quarter, our Salvage brand was even stronger than normal as a strong substitute for Rock denim. In other categories, knits — in other categories, our highest growth was in knits as we have our best inventory position there and continue to expand our brands in lifestyles. Our private brands have grown in breadth and in volume as we cover every niche in lifestyle across our collections. I want to mention our button front business that was most impacted early by COVID has come roaring back. Button fronts like outerwear and sweaters are dominated by our private brands.

Now turning to results on a combined basis. Accessory sales for the fiscal quarter were up approximately 27.5% against the prior-year fiscal quarter and footwear sales were up about 23%. These two categories accounted for approximately 8.5% and 9.5% respectively of third quarter net sales, which compares to 8.5% and 10% for each in the third quarter of fiscal 2020. Average accessory price points were up approximately 7% and average footwear price points were up about 0.5%. Again on a combined basis for the quarter, denim accounted for approximately 41.5% of sales and tops accounted for approximately 32%. This compares to 42% and 32% for each in the third quarter of fiscal 2020. For the quarter, our private label business increased to 44% of sales compared with 39% in the third quarter of 2020.

With this being my final earnings call before retiring at the end of our fiscal year, I want to take the opportunity to thank Dennis and Buckle teammates past and present for such an incredible journey. I’ll miss the excitement of the business and the culture that Dennis and many other great people have created.

I also wanted to specifically thank the men’s buying team. It has been a true joy to work with each of them. Your talent, creativity and drive have enabled us to succeed in the face of such adversity over the past two years and have positioned us well to further capitalize on the opportunities ahead. The future looks bright and I look forward to watching where you take us.

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

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And first go to the line of Jon Braatz with Kansas City Capital. Please go ahead.

Jon Braatz — Kansas City Capital — Analyst

Good morning, everyone. Dennis, what do you see maybe ahead in 2022 in terms of new stores, maybe the future of Buckle youth stores and so on? Obviously, you have a nice cash position. Would you anticipate much in terms of new stores going forward?

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Jon. I want to take a moment before answering your question. As this is Bob’s last earning call, I would like to thank Bob for his 38 outstanding years at The Buckle. Bob is a very talented merchant and has developed an excellent men’s merchandise team. He has been a great partner and we appreciate all he has accomplished at The Buckle and we want to wish Bob all the best in the future.

Jon, we do have one new store planned for 2022. The youth stores, we will expand our inventory selection in our stores although we don’t have a specific youth store planned to open separate from our regular store. We’re also, over the next year and a half, going to have 20 plus relocation remodels of stores. Most of those are or the majority of those will be moving from probably mall locations to outdoor centers or shopping strip centers, where we will have the exposure on the street with our guests and we’ve had some very good success the past two years making those changes. So, thank you.

Jon Braatz — Kansas City Capital — Analyst

Okay. Dennis, when you — with regards to the — excuse me, the Buckle youth merchandise, when you put that merchandise into a store, are you taking out merchandise? I’m trying to get sort of an incremental impact that the youth segment is having on your stores.

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

No. In the majority of stores, we are not taking out product. And the good news about our relocations and the majority of our relocations, we are expanding store size by at least 1,000 square feet in a lot of cases. And so that makes a very good way for us to expand that selection without adding more store personnel for a separate store and saving the expense of a separate buildout.

Jon Braatz — Kansas City Capital — Analyst

Okay. One last question. This year has been an extraordinary year for everybody. And I’ll have to give everybody, you and your team credit, because you’ve — I think you’ve outexecuted, outcompeted your competitors. But obviously, there were some macro tailwinds that helped everybody. And when you look into 2022 and beyond and look where you are today, how much do you think maybe some of the things that you’ve done are sustainable in terms of a higher margin?

Obviously, you’re going to be up around 25%. You go back a couple of year, 2013, ’14, you were at 22%. Are some of these things that you’ve done, will you be able to retain and keep margins a little bit higher than maybe what we’ve seen in the past?

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, we won’t make any predictions, but we have a lot of good things going. We have great excitement in the stores, very talented teammates with our store managers and their leaders in the stores. Our merchandise teams are very strong and they’re great at knowing our guests. Our marketing has improved.

We have substantially more new guests each quarter than the previous year and a strong support staff here at the office. So we have a lot of things to be excited about.

And I think even in 2019, we were starting to make progress on a lot of our investments, changes. Our focus has always been to have continued improvement within our Company. And I want to thank all our teammates and staff for all their hard work and appreciate what they’re doing because we take a continued focus on improving and improving our guest service, our presentation of the product and over time, this continued improvements kind of like compound interest, we gain from it and get stronger as we grow. So that’s kind of our approach and we think we will continue to do well.

Jon Braatz — Kansas City Capital — Analyst

Okay, all right. Thank you, Dennis.

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes.

Operator

Our next question is from Peter Brotchie with Brotchie Capital Management. Please go ahead.

Peter Brotchie — Analyst

Good morning. Thanks for taking my call. Couple of questions. I think, I heard you say that your SG&A was actually down this quarter. Are you guys experiencing any kind of wage inflation at the store level or in distribution?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vicre President – Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Our model in the store, we’re primarily for most of our teammates a base plus a commission. So there is natural increases in wage and a lot of our teammates are doing really well with the strong business we’re seeing in a lot of areas. And you read the press and our experience has been no different that it’s incredibly competitive for talent.

So we have had to make some adjustments to wages here for some of our positions in the office, the same for some of our positions in the store. I mean, recruiting is a constant focus, especially in our fulfillment centers here for e-commerce sales and our distribution center and we’ve also had a really strong focus on recruiting through the fall in the stores and that’s been really successful.

We had some additive incentives for both referrals and new applicants and really in a good spot there.

Peter Brotchie — Analyst

Great. Great. Thanks for that. Along — I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vicre President – Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

All things considered.

Peter Brotchie — Analyst

Sure. And speaking of your sales associates. You guys have always been great with having your in-store associate spending time with customers to make sure they get the right fit, the right brand for them personally. And I’m just wondering if you can give me some color on how that squares with your online sales increasing like fairly dramatically? Are people buying online and then coming in for a more custom fit if they’re not happy when they get it at home or how do you think about that?

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

I think the — we have a lot of guests that shop online and then come into the store to find what they would like best. And then as they become — they find their favorite fits of our stores. And so — then they are more comfortable ordering online because they know that our quality and consistency and the fitting works well for them and we’re always there. And also we started testing in 2019, the ship from store and expanded that last year, as the business grew during the year and that’s been a big help to our e-com business as our third quarter over — over 2019 e-com was up 81%. So I think, second quarter was up 94%. So it’s a combination of things that are working very well there.

Peter Brotchie — Analyst

Great. Great. And one final question, how do you feel about having ample inventory for holiday?

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, we are hoping that we keep the flow going. I mean with up 27% in the third quarter, we’re able to get — our inventory was still down in the high teens. I think it had been running down over 20%. But with the success of the stores and our business, it’s difficult to catch up, but a good problem and we’re still working hard. And if we get everything coming in that’s planned, we should be able to offer a nice selection.

Peter Brotchie — Analyst

Great. Well, thanks again and congratulations on a fantastic quarter.

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Peter. Take care.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And we do have a question from the line of Steve Marotta with C.L. King & Associates. Please go ahead.

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

Good morning, Dennis. I just want to follow up on that last question regarding the supply chain in general. How would you say it is for both private label and branded items compared to three months ago?

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Steve. It’s a little difficult to call out. I think some of our vendors are in pretty good shape on shipping on product and others still have a challenge. I’d say, it’s slightly improved, but still a challenge.

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

Okay. That’s helpful. And also can you update us on any digital initiatives that launched over the last three months that have helped you connect digitally with your customers and have them transact digitally?

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vicre President – Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Dennis mentioned — this is Tom. Dennis mentioned a lot of the heavy lifting for omni initiatives was done prior to this year. So in terms of opening up the availability of in-store inventory for online purchase to browse that inventory, buy online, pickup in store, ship from store, those were all done, which were a lot of our biggest initiatives. This year, I mean, we have a tool that we’re rolling out and experimenting with and implementing and hoping to grow where our teammates in the stores have the ability to take their service to the guest. So it’s really bridging that gap between teammates and the stores and online and taking that service to the guests wherever they are. That’s been well received.

We hope to continue to grow that. We continue to look at payment options. We’ve added payment options and added Afterpay both in-store and online during the quarter. Those are probably some of our more significant initiatives this year.

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

Thanks, Tom.

Thomas B. Heacock — Senior Vicre President – Finance, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

And all of those things have been well received. We continue to see growth both online and in-store. I think, it’s a function of all of those investments.

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

That’s helpful. Thank you.

Operator

And allowing a few moments, we have no further questions in queue.

Dennis Nelson — President and Chief Executive Officer

If [Phonetic] no questions, we can wrap it up for today. So thank you everybody for being on the call and participating and have a wonderful day.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Disclaimer

This transcript is produced by AlphaStreet, Inc. While we strive to produce the best transcripts, it may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies. This transcript is provided as is without express or implied warranties of any kind. As with all our articles, AlphaStreet, Inc. does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company’s SEC filings. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed in this transcript constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of securities or commodities. Any opinion expressed in the transcript does not necessarily reflect the views of AlphaStreet, Inc.

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