http://www.morningstar.com/earnings/49399261-fresh-market-inc-tfm-q4-2012.aspx

Fresh Market Inc TFM
Q4 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 03/06/2013

Operator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to The Fresh Market's Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2012 Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we'll conduct the question-and-answer session and instructions will be given at that time.

I'd now like to turn the call over to Sean Crane.

Sean Crane - EVP, COO and Interim CFO: Thank you, operator. I'd like to welcome everyone to The Fresh Market's fourth quarter 2012 earnings call. I'm Sean Crane, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer of The Fresh Market. I'm joined on today's call by The Fresh Market's President and Chief Executive Officer, Craig Carlock; and Jeff Short, our Vice President and Corporate Controller.

Before we begin the discussion of our business results, I need to remind you that any forward-looking statements we may make today are subject to our Safe Harbor statements found in our press release and SEC filings. Our fourth quarter earnings release and related financial information, including any non-GAAP or adjusted financial reconciliation tables are available on our corporate website under the Investor Relations section.

After our prepared comments, we will have time to answer questions. Please note that a replay of this call and the Q&A session will be available for 30 days on our website at www.thefreshmarket.com.

With that, let me turn the call over to Craig.

Craig Carlock - President and CEO: Thank you, Sean and good morning, everyone. You likely had a chance to review our press release issued this morning. With our remarks today we would like to recap our fourth quarter performance and provide color on the changing consumer activity we saw this holiday season. We will comment on our full-year fiscal 2012 results and share our outlook for fiscal year 2013.

Let's start with Q4. This morning, we reported fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.43 driven by consolidated sales growth of 15.3% and comp store sales of 1.9%. While our full year comp store sales finished within our plan and guidance range and while we were pleased with our execution during the holiday season, we were disappointed to see our comp store sales growth rate slow this quarter. Similar to other retailers, we saw a pronounced change in consumer behavior this quarter, which caused comparable store sales to come in below trend and contributed to softness in EPS.

To understand better what happened during the winter selling season, we conducted extensive analysis and looked at a broad cross-section of sales data. While we found little evidence of issues with our merchandising or execution during the quarter, we saw relative weakness in comparable sales that was consistent across geographies, categories and store vintage.

We tried to perform our analysis as objectively as possible and we recognize there are always things we can do better. However, our products, prices and promotions were relatively in line with our competition and on par with prior holiday seasons.

The fourth quarter was also our toughest year-over-year comparison for comp sales as we cycled the 7% increase from last year's fourth quarter. During our third quarter call, we communicated that this will present a headwind for us and we were also mindful that the strong momentum that we enjoyed early in the year could be challenged by macroeconomic and political uncertainties.

Read our Earnings Call Transcript disclaimer.
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