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Brown Shoe sidesteps winter in fourth quarter

Severe winter weather may have affected Brown Shoe Company’s fourth-quarter results, but CEO, president and chairperson Diane Sullivan focused on the company’s fiscal-year results as she looks ahead to growing the retail and wholesale businesses in 2014.

The company reported net sales for the quarter of $600 million, a 3% decrease from the prior-year quarter’s net sales of $618.7 million. Net earnings for the quarter were $6.2 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, slightly ahead of company expectations. In the fourth quarter of the prior year, net earnings were $4 million, or $0.09 per diluted share.

For full year 2013, net sales of $2.5 billion were up 1.4% compared to $2.4 billion in 2012. Net earnings for 2013 were $38.1 million, or $0.88 per diluted share, versus $27.5 million, or $0.64 per diluted share, in 2012.

Gross profit margin for the quarter improved to 40.2% from 40.0% in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the full year, it improved to 40.4% from 39.9% in 2012.

“Brown Shoe Company delivered a successful fourth quarter and 2013. We reported year-over-year operating earnings growth of 32.4%, while delivering a 2.9% increase in 2013 Famous Footwear same-store-sales. Our wholesale brands continued to make progress, growing sales 13.5% in the fourth quarter and 5.3% in 2013,” said Sullivan. “We are looking forward to continuing to execute against our strategies to deliver increasing shareholder value, as we grow our retail and wholesale businesses in 2014.”

Famous Footwear sales in the quarter were $347.4 million, down 8.6% year-over-year, with same-store-sales down 1.8%. Performance in the quarter was impacted by severe winter weather, which hurt running shoe sales while helping to drive boot sales. During the quarter, 13 stores were closed or relocated and nine new stores were added.

Wholesale sales of $196.3 million were up 13.5% in the fourth quarter. For the Healthy Living platform, wholesale sales of $107.2 million were up 4.3%, led by a double-digit improvement in Naturalizer. The company’s Contemporary Fashion wholesale sales of $89.1 million were up 28.2% in the fourth quarter, with double-digit growth from key brands Sam Edelman and Franco Sarto.

Famous Footwear reported full year 2013 sales of $1.5 billion, a 0.9% year-over-year improvement, while annual operating earnings of $107.1 million were up 13.8%. For 2013, same-store-sales were up 2.9% over 2012. During the year, 62 stores were closed or relocated and 51 new stores were added, as average revenue per square foot improved to $207.

Wholesale Operations sales of $763.7 million were up 5.3% over $724.9 million in 2013. In the Healthy Living portfolio, wholesale sales of $421.3 million were up 2.4% in 2013. For Contemporary Fashion, wholesale sales of $340.8 million were up 12.7%.

Look ahead, the company expects 2014 earnings per share to be in the range of $1.45 to $1.55, or a 3% to 10% increase over 2013.

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