Christopher & Banks Stock Rises on Narrowed Loss

The company benefited from higher same-store sales and significantly narrowed its year-over-year loss.

Women’s clothing retailer Christopher & Banks Corporation on Wednesday reported a narrowed loss and improved same-store sales, causing its stock price to rise during after-hours trading.

For the quarter that ended February 2, the Plymouth-based company reported a net loss of $4.1 million, or $0.11 per share. That’s compared to a net loss of $53.2 million, or $1.50 per share, during last year’s fourth quarter, which included $21.2 million in restructuring charges.

This year’s quarterly and full-year earnings do not represent an apples-to-apples comparison with the previous year: Due to a change in the company’s fiscal-year end, the most recent fiscal year included 53 weeks, one more than the previous year’s 52.

Revenue for the 14-week fourth quarter totaled $116 million, up about 10 percent from $105.6 million during last year’s 13-week fourth quarter. About $5.1 million was attributed to the 14th week, meaning revenue grew roughly 5 percent when looking at the identical period, year-over-year.

Same-store sales—sales at stores open at least a year and an industry barometer—increased 18.5 percent during the 14 weeks ended February 2, compared to the same 14-week period the prior year.

The company noted that it achieved sales growth during the fourth quarter despite the fact that it operated just 124 stores during the period, about 17 percent fewer than it had during the same period a year ago.

Following the company’s announcement, made late Wednesday afternoon, its stock price climbed about 7.6 percent in after-hours trading and opened Thursday at $7.07, before sliding to $6.64 mid-morning Thursday.

“We are delighted with the continued momentum in our business in the fourth quarter due to the ongoing execution of our strategic initiatives,” President and CEO LuAnn Via said in a statement. “Our customers responded very favorably to our well-balanced merchandise offering, improved value proposition, and enhanced marketing programs.”

Via said that while she’s “proud of the work our team has done,” the company is “only in the fourth inning, and we intend to continue to build upon this foundation to drive sustainable long-term sales and earnings growth.”

Via, who formerly served as CEO of Payless ShoeSource, Inc., took the reins at Christopher & Banks in October.

The company, which has struggled in recent years and had reported a string of quarterly losses, returned to profitability in the third quarter before reporting its fourth-quarter loss, which still represented a year-over-year improvement.

The company has closed more than 100 stores in the past year and has been implementing a turnaround effort involving lower prices, improved inventory flow, and a promotional strategy that features more targeted, unique promotions.

Last year, Christopher & Banks received a buyout offer from investor Aria Partners, which, after its bid was rejected, criticized the company’s performance and said it would continue to push for a sale.

For the 53-week fiscal year that ended February 2, the company reported a loss of $16.1 million, or $0.45 per share, marking an improvement over the net loss of $81.4 million, or $2.29 per share, that the company reported for the 52 weeks that ended January 28, 2012. Revenue, meanwhile, slid 1.3 percent to $430.3 million.