Pacific Sunwear’s (NASDAQ: PSUN) official SEC filing isn’t out yet (I’m writing this November 26 because I love working Sundays), but I’ve read the press release, reviewed the associated financial statements for the quarter and nine months ended October 28, and listened to the conference call. Let’s look at the numbers first, and then talk about the conference call.
The quarter showed a slight decline in sales from $377 to $375 million. But gross margin fell from $144 to $106 million—or from 38.2% to 28.3%. Selling and General and Administrative expenses rose from $81 to $93 million. Net income fell from $40.5 to $9 million or from $0.54 to $0.13 per share on a fully diluted basis.
On the balance sheet, the current asset fell from 3.45 a year ago to a still strong 2.34 at the end of this October. The only other thing I’d note from the balance sheet is that, even after a write down, inventory—at $253 million—was still nearly $10 million higher than a year ago.
In the mix was a same-store sales decrease of 6.7% and the ten cents a share inventory write down—primarily for footwear and accessory categories. The CEO resigned and was replaced by Company Lead Director Sally Frame Kasaks as interim chief executive officer. At different times in her career, Ms. Kasaks was Chairman and CEO of Ann Taylor Stores, President and CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, and Chairman and CEO of Talbot’s, Inc. I think we can conclude she knows a bit about specialty retailing.
With financial results like that, the stock must have cratered, right? Nope. The press release was dated November 9. The stock closed that day at $17.27. The next day it rose to $18.56—a 7.47% gain on volume that was 3.76 times the average volume. The company’s most recent closing price as I write this was $19.48. The conference call was held on the November 10 at 5:30 in the morning Pacific Time. No, I did not listen to it live.
Clearly some people were pleased with what they heard on that call, and maybe had been expecting quarterly numbers that were worse than they were. But what made them so happy?
The Conference Call
I wish they made transcripts of conference calls available or—if they do—I wish I knew where I could get them. Trying to write down all the good things Ms. Kasaks said they were doing as quickly as she was talking was a real pain in the butt. I kept trying to stop and restart the replay, but Media Player isn’t built for rewinding fifteen seconds. And another thing, left-handed people with lousy writing should not be allowed to own fountain pens—much less try and take fast notes with them. Uh, I seem to have gotten off track.
Anyway, Ms. Kasaks highlighted three key big ideas for Pac Sun to focus on. They were:
1. A commitment to build the juniors business to increase sales and store productivity.
2. A focus on improving the in-store presentation of merchandise.
3. A strategic assessment to understand how they can reconnect with their customers.
These three big ideas followed a list of initiatives Pac Sun was undertaking. I want to quote one of those initiatives: “Put more focus on transitional merchandise with the implementation of our spring floor set at the end of January. This will insure that our spring product is presented earlier than last year while being merchandised with more wear now product than in the past.”