- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

EVANSVILLE, IND. (AP) - Shoe Carnival Inc. said Thursday that it lost $3 million in its fiscal fourth-quarter, pulled down by higher store closing costs and increased promotions during the holidays.

The shoe retailer reported a loss of 24 cents per share for the period ended Jan. 31. That compares with profit of $1.1 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.

Store closing costs totaled 12 cents per share for the quarter, up from 8 cents per share a year ago.

Excluding the store-closing item, Shoe Carnival lost 12 cents a share. Analysts predicted a loss of 8 cents per share, according to a Thomson Reuters poll. Analysts’ estimates generally exclude one-time items.

“We expect the retail footwear environment will continue to be challenging, at least through the first half of fiscal 2009. As a result, we have planned our advertising, sales promotions and inventory strategies accordingly,” President and Chief Executive Mark Lemond said in a statement.

Retailers such as Shoe Carnival have come under pressure as consumers curb their discretionary spending due to economic and job concerns. Businesses have looked for ways to cut costs and boost their inventory control efforts in an attempt to weather the storm.

Sales fell 5 percent to $156.9 million from $164.3 million, while same-store sales dropped 8.3 percent. The results missed Wall Street’s estimate of $158.9 million.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, are a key indicator of retailer performance since they measure growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones.

For the full fiscal year, net income tumbled 59 percent to $5.3 million, or 43 cents per share, from $12.8 million, or 97 cents per share, in the prior year.

Annual revenue dipped 2 percent to $647.6 million from $658.7 million, while same-store sales declined 4.6 percent.

The company finished fiscal 2008 with 304 stores after opening 24 new ones and closing 11. It plans to open about 15 stores in fiscal 2009, with 10 targeted for the first quarter. About 10 stores are expected to close during the year.

Shoe Carnival’s stock declined 11 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $8.06 in afternoon trading.

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