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Kohl's Corp KSS
Q1 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 05/10/2012

Operator: Good morning. My name is Ashley, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time I would like to welcome everyone to the Kohl's Quarter One Conference Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers' remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session.

Certain statements made on this call including projected financial results are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Kohl's intends forward-looking terminologies such as believes, expects, may, will, should, anticipate, plans, or similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, which could cause Kohl's actual results to differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those that are described in Item 1A in Kohl's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and as may be supplemented from time-to-time in Kohl's other filings with the SEC, all of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference.

Also, please note that replays of this call will be available for 30 days, but this recording will not be updated. So, if you are listening after May 10, it is possible that the information discussed is no longer current. Thank you.

I will now turn the conference over to Wes McDonald, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Wes McDonald - SEVP and CFO: Thank you. With me today is Kevin Mansell, our Chairman and CEO and President. I will start off by talking about our financial performance and then Kevin will walk through some of merchandising and marketing initiatives and close with some comments and then I will guidance components for the second quarter.

Total sales for the quarter increased 1.9% to $4.2 billion, comp store sales increased 0.2%, average unit retail increased 4.9% while units per transaction decreased 3.3%. This resulted in an average transaction value increase of 1.6%. Transactions per store were down 1.4%. Kevin will provide more color on our sales by region and line of business in a few minutes.

Our credit share was 56% for the quarter, an increase of approximately 270 basis points over the first quarter of 2011. Our gross margin rate for the quarter was 35.9%, 220 basis points lower than the first quarter of last year and below our expectations of a decrease of 160 basis points.

Our SG&A expenses decreased 0.2% for the quarter, well below our expectations of a 3.5% increase. SG&A as a percentage of sales leveraged approximately 50 basis points for the quarter. Credit provided the most significant leverage, but we also saw positive results in our store payroll and other store expenses.

Moving onto depreciation; our depreciation expense was $201 million in the first quarter this year versus $191 million in the first quarter of last year. The increase is due to new stores and additional e-commerce fulfillment centers. As a percentage of sales, depreciation was 4.7% approximately 10 basis points higher than last year.

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