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Shoe Carnival's women's fashion boots in demand
Nov '09
Shoe Carnival, Inc. a leading retailer of value-priced footwear and accessories, announced sales and earnings for the third quarter ended October 31, 2009.

Net sales for the third quarter of 2009 increased 12.6 percent to $191.5 million compared to net sales of $170.1 million in the third quarter of 2008. Comparable store sales increased 10.2 percent.

Net earnings for the thirteen-week third quarter increased 188 percent to $7.5 million compared to $2.6 million in the thirteen-week third quarter ended November 1, 2008. Diluted earnings per share for the quarter increased to $0.59 from $0.21 in the prior year third quarter.

The gross profit margin for the third quarter increased to 29.8 percent compared to 27.2 percent in the third quarter of the prior year. The merchandise margin increased 1.1 percent primarily as a result of improved inventory management resulting in less clearance product along with strong sales of boots which carry a higher margin. As a percentage of sales, buying, distribution and occupancy costs decreased 1.5 percent through a combination of higher sales and lower occupancy and distribution expenses for the quarter.

Selling, general and administrative expenses for the third quarter increased $2.5 million to $44.9 million. As a percentage of sales, these expenses decreased 1.5 percent.

Speaking on the results, Mark Lemond, chief executive officer and president said, "Our large selection of value priced name brand footwear resonated well with consumers resulting in the highest third quarter comparable store sales gain in the Company's history. We experienced higher than expected sales of athletic product during the back-to-school season and very strong boot sales later in the quarter. Our 10.2 percent comparable store sales gain was significantly above our expectations for a low to mid single digit comparable store sales increase for the quarter. The sales increase, combined with a higher gross profit margin and controlled expenses, resulted in our second best quarterly earnings in the Company's history."

Mr. Lemond continued, "We are encouraged by our third quarter momentum and entered the fourth quarter with inventories well positioned to capitalize on key fashion trends. We expect the early strength in boots, particularly women's fashion boots, to continue into the holiday season. In addition, we anticipate continued strength in the athletic category, in part, due to the favorable consumer response to wellness footwear. This type of footwear was not available in our stores last year. We remain optimistic that consumers will continue to respond well to our value proposition and currently expect our comparable store sales to increase in the range of three to five percent in the fourth quarter."

Net income for the first nine months of 2009 was $12.6 million compared to net income of $8.4 million in the first nine months of last year. Diluted earnings per share

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