Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Borders Looks for "Selling Culture"

Admitting that hand selling is nothing new, Border's CEO Ron Marshall spoke about returning the company to one driven by sales rather than cost containment and supply chain improvements alone. In the press release accompanying their first quarter results he expands on this point,
"We continued to strengthen the financial structure of the company by making further improvements to cash flow, debt and adjusted EBITDA," said Borders Group Chief Executive Officer Ron Marshall. "Make no mistake about it, we have much more work to do and will continue to maintain our financial discipline. At the same time, we know that we cannot save our way to prosperity. Our long-term success will come from doing a much better job of driving sales and that's where our focus is right now."
The company reported significant top line declines in comp store sales; however, the company is making significant improvements in store product mix, supply chain costs and other key areas. The company saw significant improvements in certain product line gross margins but the proactive reduction in multi-media sales (DVD, Music) hid much of the improvement. The company also appears to have improved its debt position and according to their CFO is in compliance with all debt coverage obligations.

Other key metrics from their press release:
  • Adjusted EBITDA in the first quarter was $3.0 million compared to an adjusted EBITDA loss of $14.3 million a year ago.
  • First quarter cash flow from operations improved by $19.5 million over last year.
  • Operating SG&A expenses and inventory were reduced from the prior year by $48.1 million and $254.9 million, respectively.
  • Debt at the end of the first quarter was reduced by $266.0 million to $325.9 million a 44.9% reduction over a year ago and $10.3 million or 3.1% less than the end of fiscal 2008.
  • Total consolidated first quarter sales were $641.5 million, down 12.1% from the prior year.
  • Comparable store sales for the first quarter declined by 13.5% and 5.5% at Borders superstores and Waldenbooks Specialty Retail stores, respectively.
On an operating basis, the company generated a first quarter loss from continuing operations of $15.9 million or $0.27 per share compared to a loss of $30.5 million or $0.51 cents per share for the same period a year ago. On a GAAP basis, the first quarter loss from continuing operations was $86.0 million or $1.44 per share compared to a loss of $30.1 million or $0.50 per share a year ago. The $1.44 per share loss includes $1.17 per share of non-operating charges that were primarily non-cash.
On a side note, it looks like someone hacked their web site, (Link) and I am sure they will get that fixed soon.

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