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CATO Q1 Earnings Improve Y/Y on Lower Costs, Sales Down

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Cato Corporation (CATO - Free Report) reported first-quarter 2024 earnings of 54 cents per share, which marks a significant increase from the prior-year quarter’s figure of 22 cents per share.

The company's retail sales for the quarter were $175.3 million, down from $190.3 million in the prior-year quarter. The 6% decline in same-store sales was a significant contributor to this drop. Other revenues, mainly from finance charges and layaway fees, were $1.8 million compared to $1.7 million previously. Total revenues stood at $177.1 million, down from $192.1 million.

The reduction in selling, general and administrative ("SG&A") expenses played a crucial role in improving profitability. Effective cost controls, especially in areas like payroll and advertising, helped offset some of the adverse impacts of lower sales. The overall decline in sales highlights the ongoing pressure on consumer’s discretionary spending as a result of the challenges posed by high interest rates and inflation.

Cato Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Cato Corporation (The) Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Cato Corporation price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Cato Corporation Quote

A Look into the Business Metrics

Gross Margin

The gross margin, as a percentage of sales, was 35.8%, the same as the year-ago period. This stability suggests that Cato has been able to maintain its pricing strategy and manage its cost of goods sold effectively despite the reduction in sales volume.

SG&A Expenses

SG&A expenses decreased to $56.8 million from $61.9 million in the previous year, a reduction primarily attributed to lower equity compensation, advertising and store expenses, including payroll. This was partially offset by increased insurance expenses. As a percentage of sales, SG&A expenses slightly decreased to 32.4% from 32.5%, demonstrating improved operational efficiency.

Interest and Other Income

Interest and other income rose significantly to $5.8 million from $0.9 million in the prior-year quarter. This significant increase was primarily due to a net gain of $3.2 million from the sale of land.

Net Income

Cato’s net income more than doubled to $11 million from $4.4 million in the same quarter last year, reflecting improved profitability despite lower sales.

Balance Sheet Position (As of May 4, 2024)

Cato had $39.1 million in cash and cash equivalents, a significant increase from $23.9 million as of Feb 3, 2024.

Total assets of $477.1 million marked a slight decrease from $486.8 million at the end of the previous fiscal year.

The company reported stockholders' equity of $196.9 million, up from $192.3 million as of Feb 3, 2024.

Share Repurchase Update

Cato bought back 431,415 shares during the first quarter of 2024, indicating the company's commitment to returning value to shareholders and confidence in its long-term prospects.

Management Outlook

Management's remarks suggest a cautious approach for the remainder of the year due to the ongoing economic pressures on consumer spending.

Other Developments

During the first quarter, Cato did not open any new stores but permanently closed seven stores. As of May 4, 2024, the company operated 1,171 stores in 31 states compared to 1,264 stores in 32 states as of Apr 29, 2023. This reduction in store count reflects a strategic consolidation in response to market conditions.

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