http://www.morningstar.com/earnings/32551132-childrens-place-inc-plce-q3-2011.aspx

Children's Place Inc PLCE
Q3 2011 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 11/17/2011

Operator: Good day, everyone, and welcome to today's program. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later you'll have the opportunity to ask questions during our Q&A session. Please note today's call is being recorded.

It is now my pleasure to turn the program over to Jane Singer. Please go ahead.

Jane Singer - VP, IR: Thank you, Lindy. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today for a review of The Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc. third quarter 2011 financial results. Participating on this morning's call are Jane Elfers, President and Chief Executive Officer; Eric Bauer, Chief Operating Officer and John Taylor, Vice President, Finance and Interim Principal Financial Officer.

Before we begin, I would like to remind participants that any forward-looking remarks made today are subject to the safe harbor statement found in this morning's press release, as well as in our SEC filings. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly release any revision to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof.

After the prepared remarks, we will open the call to questions. We request of each of you to limit yourself to one question and one follow-up, so that we will be able to take as many questions as possible.

Thank you and I will now turn the call over to Jane Elfers for her opening remarks.

Jane Elfers - President and CEO: Thank you, Jane and good morning everyone. The Children's Place delivered a solid third quarter. Net sales increased 7%, comp sales increased 1%, gross margin increased 110 basis points, operating income increased 9%, net income increased 8%, earnings per share from continuing operations increased 17%, and we entered the third quarter with 29% less carryover inventory, and exited the quarter with 54% less carryover inventory as a result of our disciplined approach to inventory management. Total balance sheet inventory per square foot was up 3.9% at the end of the quarter.

Average unit retails in the quarter increased in the mid teens with the highest AUR increase in girl. Accessories and footwear delivered double-digit comps for the quarter. E-commerce had a positive 27% comp with increases across all key metrics.

U.S. (Place) stores had a positive mid-single-digit comp led by the big girl division, which comped in the positive high single digits. This positive turnaround in the performance of big girl was a result of strong consumer acceptance to our compelling new product, significant AUR increases and a substantial reduction in carryover inventory. Canadian stores and U.S. outlet stores delivered significant margin improvement versus last year due to disciplined inventory control.

In marketing our third quarter strategies were successful, we competed very effectively during August in the key back-to-school categories of denim, graphics, uniforms and backpacks. The increased promotional focus on these key items helped us overcome a difficult end of the month due to Hurricane Irene.

Read our Earnings Call Transcript disclaimer.
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