Kohl’s Falls Flat on Holiday Quarter Update

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Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) slumped in Thursday’s session following a financial update for its current fiscal year. The numbers fell well below what analysts had expected.

The company reported that fourth-quarter comparable sales increased 0.4% and fiscal 2015 comparable sales increased 0.7%. Total sales increased 0.8% for the fourth quarter and 1.0% for fiscal 2015.

Kohl’s now expects its fiscal 2015 diluted earnings per share (EPS) to be $3.95 to $4.00, down from its previously stated guidance of toward the low end of $4.40 to $4.60.

Consensus estimates call for $4.30 in EPS on $19.27 billion in revenue for this fiscal year.

The change in guidance is a result of lower than planned sales for the quarter and significantly lower than planned gross margin. Gross margin was affected by the origin and timing of the sales ,in addition to the competitive promotional environment, which resulted in higher-than-expected markdowns on both year-round and seasonal merchandise.

From the business perspective, Footwear and Home were the strongest categories, while Accessories was the weakest. On a regional basis, the West region was the strongest while the Mid-Atlantic and South Central regions were the most difficult.

Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, CEO and president, commented:

While we experienced our fifth consecutive quarter of positive comparable sales increases, sales were very volatile and less than planned in the fourth quarter. We experienced a very strong holiday selling season from the week of Thanksgiving through Christmas. These results were offset by a very slow start to the quarter in early November and a weaker-than-expected January as soft demand for cold-weather goods led to lower store traffic in these more discretionary shopping periods.

Mansell continued:

We were pleased with the performance of our digital business as online generated orders and sales each grew approximately 30 percent during the quarter. Our ability to provide both ship-from-store and buy online, pickup in store capabilities in all stores really resonated with our customer.

Shares of Kohl’s were trading down nearly 16% at $43.01 on Thursday, with a consensus analyst price target of $52.62 and a 52-week trading range of $41.86 to $79.60.