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Net sales for the first quarter up at Chico's FAS
20
May '11
Chico's FAS Inc announced its financial results for the fiscal 2011 first quarter ended April 30, 2011.

Net Income and Earnings per Share

The Company reported net income of $45.9 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2011 compared to net income of $35.4 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, reported for the same period last year.

Net Sales

Net sales for the first quarter increased 11.5% to $537.2 million from $481.6 million in last year's first quarter. Consolidated comparable sales, which include direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, increased 7.7% for the first quarter on top of a 16.0% increase for the same period last year. The Chico's/Soma Intimates brands' comparable sales increased 7.8% following a 16.1% increase for the same period last year, and the White House | Black Market ("WH|BM") brand's comparable sales increased 7.4% following a 15.7% increase for the same period last year.

Gross Margin

Gross margin for the first quarter, expressed as a percentage of net sales, increased 60 basis points to 59.1% from 58.5% in last year's first quarter. The gross margin rate increase was attributable to increased margins at Chico's and WH|BM frontline stores primarily driven by improved in-season sell-through in the current period versus the same period last year.

Selling, General and Administrative Expenses

Selling, general and administrative expenses ("SG&A") for the first quarter, expressed as a percentage of net sales, decreased 150 basis points compared to last year's first quarter. SG&A dollars, however, increased $18.3 million, or 8.1%, over last year's first quarter primarily due to higher store and direct operating costs associated with 85 net new stores opened since the end of last year's first quarter.

Store and direct operating expenses increased by $12.3 million over last year's first quarter primarily due to increased occupancy expense and store labor costs associated with 85 net new stores over last year, accompanied by increased credit card fees due to higher sales volume compared to last year. However, expressed as a percentage of net sales, store and direct operating expenses decreased 130 basis points due to the leverage associated with the comparable store sales increase.

Marketing expenses increased $1.8 million over last year's first quarter primarily due to incremental television advertising for the Soma brand as well as increased e-marketing initiatives for all three brands.

National Store Support Center expenses, including corporate and other non-brand specific expenses, increased by $3.6 million from last year's first quarter but were flat to last year as a percentage of net sales.

Inventories

End of quarter inventory increased $38.1 million or approximately 23.7% from last year's first quarter. Excluding an incremental $9.6 million of in-transit inventories this year over last year, inventory per selling square foot would have been $66 versus $60, an increase of 9.5% compared to last year. The increase in year-over-year comparable sales including DTC, along with the anticipated opening of 21 net, new stores in the May-June 2011 timeframe, contributed to the increased inventory per selling square foot over last year.

Share Repurchase Program

During the first quarter of 2011, the Company repurchased 2.6 million shares for $36.3 million and has $145.4 million remaining under the original $200 million authorization approved by the Board of Directors in August 2010.

Chico's FAS Inc

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