JACKSONVILLE, Fla.–A streamlining of the cost structure and improved inventory management helped Stein Mart to a dramatic 586 percent pickup in fourth-quarter net income, to $18.8 million.
The department-store retailer managed this despite a 1.5 percent drop in fourth-quarter net sales to $336.7 million. It slimmed selling, general and administrative expenses by 11.5 percent in dollars and 257 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 22.8 percent. In addition, Stein Mart’s gross margin tacked on 16 basis points to finish the quarter at 26 percent. The company also posted an income-tax benefit of $2.9 million, as opposed to a provision of $3.2 million in last year’s fourth quarter.
The bottom-line total for the quarter, which ended on Jan. 29, included adjustments for asset impairment, store closing charges and deferred tax valuation allowance. Without these adjustments, Stein Mart’s fourth-quarter profit rose 68 percent to $14.6 million.
For the fiscal year as a whole, Stein Mart’s net income rose 107 percent to $48.8 million, in spite of a 3.1 percent drop in net sales to $1.2 billion. Acknowledging the company’s success in controlling costs, David H. Stovall Jr., president and chief executive officer, added that Stein Mart’s long-term performance will depend on “gaining more traction in sales growth. Our focus in 2011 is increasing sales by attracting more customers and building our share of their spending.”