Foot Locker’s Q4 Comps Jump 10 Percent 

Foot Locker’s Q4 Comps Jump 10 Percent 

Foot Locker, Inc. reported fourth-quarter earnings rose 18.0 percent to $146 million, or $1.01 a share, easily eclipsing Wall Street’s target. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, came to $1 per share, beating Wall Street’s consensus estimate of 90 cents as share.

Fourth quarter comparable-store sales increased 10.2 percent. Total fourth quarter sales increased 6.7 percent, to $1,911 million this year, compared with sales of $1,791 million in 2013. Excluding the effect of foreign currency fluctuations, total sales for the fourth quarter increased 10.1 percent.

During the fourth quarter, the company realized a gain from the sale of a property and wrote down a trademark.  On a non-GAAP basis, excluding these one-time events, the company earned $1.00 per share, a 22 percent increase over the comparable 13-week non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.82 in 2013.  A reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP results is included in the tables below.

Fiscal Year Results

For fiscal year 2014, the company reported net income of $520 million, or $3.56 per share, compared to net income of $429 million, or $2.85 per share, in 2013. On a non-GAAP basis, earnings were $3.58 per share in 2014, an increase of 25 percent over the $2.87 per share earned on a comparable basis in 2013.  In 2014 the company generated its fifth consecutive double-digit percentage increase in annual earnings per share and its fourth consecutive year of record earnings as Foot Locker, Inc.

Total sales increased 9.9 percent in 2014 to $7,151 million, the highest level of sales ever recorded by the company as Foot Locker, Inc., compared with sales of $6,505 million last year. Comparable-store sales increased 8 percent in 2014.

“We remain intently focused on executing our key strategies,” said Richard Johnson, president and CEO.  “Along with elevating the level of investments in our stores, digital capabilities, support facilities, and — most importantly — our people, that focus has enabled us to develop into a high-performance company that has reached record heights of financial and operational success.  In fact, we have approached or surpassed many of the goals in our most recent set of long-term objectives, and I am very proud of the entire team at Foot Locker, Inc. for this excellent accomplishment.”

“Looking ahead,” Johnson continued, “we intend to stay focused on our strategic priorities and seize opportunities to raise the bar again and achieve our next set of financial milestones, the details of which we look forward to sharing on March 16th at our New York headquarters.”

“Our strong top-line performance was accompanied by continued discipline in managing expenses,” added Lauren Peters, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. “As a result, we set many new records for our company in 2014, including increasing our gross margin rate to 33.2 percent of sales and improving our annual SG&A expense rate to below 20 percent for the first time.”

“Our EBIT margin increased to 11.4 percent of sales and net income margin improved to 7.3 percent, both surpassing our long-term goals,” continued Ms. Peters.  “Return on invested capital improved further to 15 percent, our sales per gross square foot posted a solid increase to $490, and inventory turns also improved significantly.”

Financial Position

The company’s merchandise inventory at January 31, 2015 was $1,250 million, which was $30 million, or 2.5 percent, higher than at the end of last year.

At year-end 2014, the company’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $967 million, while the debt on its balance sheet was $134 million. During the fourth quarter of 2014, the company repurchased 2.34 million shares of its common stock for $131 million. For the full year, the company repurchased 5.9 million shares for $305 million.

“As previously announced in February, our Board of Directors approved a new $1 billion share repurchase program,” said Johnson, “with the previous $600 million program having been substantially completed.  Our strong financial position also enabled the Board to authorize another double-digit percentage increase in our quarterly dividend, to 25 cents per share, and approve a $220 million capital expenditure program for 2015.”

Store Base Update

The company opened 86 new stores, remodeled/relocated 319 stores, and closed 136 stores during fiscal 2014. As of January 31, 2015, the company operated 3,423 stores in 23 countries in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition, 51 franchised Foot Locker stores were operating in the Middle East and South Korea, as well as 27 franchised Runners Point and Sidestep stores in Germany and Switzerland.