Christopher & Banks’ Stock Jumps Despite Drop In Sales

The women’s clothing retailer beat analysts’ expectations as it neared profits for its fourth quarter, and it announced plans to consolidate more stores.

Christopher & Banks’ stock price climbed more than 10 percent Thursday afternoon on the announcement that it narrowed its fourth-quarter loss.

The Plymouth-based women’s clothing retailer has struggled in recent years—closing more than 100 stores, cutting jobs, and combining some stores under new formats—but it showed positive signs in its third quarter when its profits jumped 140 percent, in the wake of a CEO transition.

Its former chief executive abruptly resigned in early 2012, and after operating under an interim CEO, Christopher & Banks tapped former Payless ShoeSource, Inc., CEO LuAnn Via a few months later as its leader. Its stock is up more than 100 percent since it named a new CEO.

For the fourth quarter, which ended February 1, Christopher & Banks reported a net loss of $0.3 million, or $0.01 per share, compared to a net loss of $4.1 million, or $0.11 per share, during the same period a year ago. Its loss per share was $0.02 higher than what analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected.

Revenue, meanwhile, totaled $104.9 million, down 9.6 percent from $116 million in the fourth quarter of last year. Fourth-quarter revenue fell short of analysts’ projections of $106.1 million.

Shares of Christopher & Banks’ stock, however, were trading up 10.1 percent at $6.80 Thursday afternoon.

“Despite the negative sales impact from temporary store closings and challenging traffic trends caused by the multiple snow storms and arctic temperatures during the fourth quarter, we met our quarterly financial goals,” Via said in a statement. “We were very pleased with the strong customer response to our merchandise offering and marketing efforts on days that were not adversely affected by weather.”

For the full year, Christopher & Banks’ revenue totaled $435.8 million, up just over 1 percent from $430.3 million last year. Its same-store sales increased by 8.1 percent from a year ago, and its profits totaled $8.7 million, up from a loss of $16.1 million in 2013.

For the upcoming first quarter, the company said it plans to open two new outlet stores, convert 16 CB stores into eight “Missy, Petite, and Women’s” (MPW) format locations, and close three CB stores to be replaced by MPW stores.

“Looking ahead, we remain focused on our key strategies, which include refining our merchandise assortment, maintaining healthy inventory levels, creating compelling marketing programs, and capitalizing on our eCommerce site to drive incremental traffic and sales,” Via said. “In addition, we will continue to execute on our real estate plans designed to drive higher store sales productivity and four-wall operating profit.”

Christopher & Banks expects its store count to be down 7 percent, but to increase its total square footage by 2 percent, in the upcoming year.