HHGregg shares surge on strong quarterly profit

HHGregg Inc.’s stock price shot up nearly 20 percent late Wednesday morning after the Indianapolis-based appliance and electronics retailer reported strong earnings.

Wall Street responded to the company’s higher profit in its fiscal second quarter by sending shares up $2.35, to $14.48.

HHGregg earned $6 million, or 16 cents per share, in the three-month period ended Sept. 30. That compared with a profit of $3.9 million, or 10 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Analysts had expected profit of 6 cents per share.

Quarterly revenue climbed 28.6 percent, to $618.6 million.

HHGregg attributed the rise in profit to an increase in revenue from the addition of 35 stores within the past year as well as a 1.5-percent increase in same-store sales.

The company had reported four straight quarters of declining same-store sales, so the increase was welcome news.

“At the beginning of the year, we laid out our strategic initiatives for fiscal 2012, which included growing appliance market share, launching a new e-commerce site, expanding our assortment in the home office category, launching a new advertising campaign, extending our market share in the video category and ultimately restoring the company to positive comparable store sales,” CEO Dennis May said Wednesday morning in a conference call with investors.

“As we sit here today we are pleased with our execution on these initiatives and with our performance during the fiscal second quarter.”

In stores open at least a year, video sales dipped 4 percent, but home office and appliance sales increased 23.9 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Increased demand for notebook computers and tablets bolstered home office sales.

“I am very pleased to report that our comparable store sales increased 7 percent in the appliance category,” May said. “This significantly outpaced the industry, which was reported down in low single digits.”

Indeed, lower-than-expected demand from skittish U.S. consumers hurt third-quarter results for the world's two biggest makers of home appliances, Whirlpool Corp. and Electrolux AB, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Whirlpool, the world's largest appliance maker, based in Benton Harbor, Mich., reported a 9.2-percent fall in third-quarter earnings. No. 2 Electrolux, based in Sweden, posted a 15-percent drop.

HHGregg rebounded from a poor performance in the previous quarter, when disappointing sales at stores open at least a year dragged the company to just its second quarterly loss since going public in 2007. In the previous quarter, HHGregg lost $800,000, or 2 cents per share, as revenue dipped 1 percent, to $431.5 million.

HHGregg expects to open between 20 and 25 new stores in fiscal 2013, primarily in markets surrounding a regional distribution center it opened in the Chicago area earlier this year. New stores are expected to open in St. Louis, Milwaukee and in other locations in Illinois.

Looking toward the holiday shopping season, May expects same-store sales to increase between 3 percent and 7 percent.

The company operated 204 stores as of Sept. 30, up from 169 during the same period in 2010.

HHGregg adjusted its fiscal 2012 earnings-per-share guidance to a range of $1.26 to $1.41 from the previously expected $1.20 to $1.35 per share to account for share repurchases. Since May, the company has repurchased 2.7 million shares of its common stock at a total cost of $35 million.

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