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Catalog productivity up at outerwear retailer Eddie Bauer
May '09
Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc reported financial performance for the first quarter ended April 4, 2009. Operating loss increased by 11.0%, or $2.8 million to $28.2 million in the quarter, primarily due to lower net merchandise sales and gross margins, which were substantially offset by increased savings in selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses.

Loss before interest expense, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), excluding the impacts associated with the amendment of the Company's senior term loan and severance charges in the first quarter, increased by $7.0 million to $19.5 million.

"The first quarter was a difficult one, as the sharp downturn in the economy took its toll on our sales. We continued to focus on cost cutting and cash flow management, which helped mitigate the impact of lower sales," said Neil Fiske, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Total revenues for the quarter decreased by $33.4 million to $179.8 million, compared to $213.2 million in the first quarter of 2008. Combined comparable store sales fell 11.3% when excluding the effect of Canadian exchange rates. Comparable store sales continue to be impacted by the general economic conditions and reduced consumer retail spending. Direct revenue was down 10.7%. Catalog circulation pages were down approximately 22.6% for the quarter, while catalog productivity was up approximately 11.2% on a more targeted mailing strategy.

The Company operated 251 retail stores and 119 outlet stores at the end of the first quarter of 2009, compared with 247 and 118 stores, respectively, in 2008.

Gross Margins
Gross margin percentage declined to 24.5% in the first quarter from 27.6% in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin dollars decreased by $13.3 million to $41.4 million in the first quarter of 2009 compared to $54.7 million in the prior year quarter. The decreased gross margin percentage primarily resulted from a lower net merchandise sales base across which to spread fixed buying and occupancy costs.

Selling, General and Administrative (SG&A)
SG&A decreased by $14.7 million (15.4%) in the first quarter of 2009 and included approximately $1.2 million in severance costs associated with the January 2009 193-person reduction in workforce and a reduction in previously recorded severance amounts.

EBITDA and Operating Loss
EBITDA is an important non-GAAP financial measure used to measure operating performance. EBITDA loss increased by $7.0 million to a $19.5 million loss for the quarter when excluding the impacts associated with the April 2009 amendment of the Company's senior term loan and severance charges. The term loan impacts included a $10.3 million non-cash loss on the fair value of the Company's hedge on a portion of the senior term loan interest rate.

The fair value accounting adjustment of the hedge does not affect the Company's cash flow or operating profit. "Loss before Income Tax Benefit" (shown below) is considered the comparable GAAP measure. (See the attached table, "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures," for a more complete description.)

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