Pier 1 December sales disappoint, cuts forecasts

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Pier 1 Imports Inc. said Thursday that its sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.3 percent for the five weeks ended Jan. 4, but that the figure dropped when accounting for a calendar shift.

The home decor company cut its fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year earnings forecasts, citing what it called its disappointing December performance.

Pier 1 said that there was an extra week in fiscal 2013. Prior to adjusting for the calendar shift, Pier 1 said that sales at stores open at least a year fell 5.7 percent in fiscal December, compared with an 8.2 percent increase for the prior-year period.

President and CEO Alex Smith said in a statement that the company was “extremely disappointed” in its performance, particularly given its strong sales over Black Friday weekend. Smith said that bad winter weather in the first half of December hurt Pier 1’s performance for the rest of that month and into January.

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Smith said online sales remained strong, making up about 4 percent of total sales in fiscal December. The company’s web site averaged 2.2 million visitors per week in December.

For the fiscal fourth quarter, Pier 1 now expects earnings between 47 cents and 52 cents per share. Its prior guidance was for earnings of 60 cents to 66 cents per share. Sales are expected to rise by a low- to mid-single digit percentage rate. Sales at stores open at least a year are anticipated to be about flat.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 63 cents per share.

The retailer now foresees fiscal 2014 earnings between $1.07 and $1.12 per share. It previously forecast earnings in a range of $1.21 to $1.27 per share. Revenue is anticipated to climb by a mid- to high-single digit percentage rate, with sales at stores open at least a year up by a low- to mid-single digit percentage rate.

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Wall Street is calling for full-year earnings of $1.23 per share.

Pier 1 said that it will report its fourth-quarter and full-year results on April 10.