Borders® Group Reports Q3 2008 Results; Debt Reduced by Over $273 Million from Prior Year and Year-to-Date Cash Flow from Operations Improved by $110 Million Over 2007
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP) today reported results for the third quarter, ended Nov. 1, 2008. On an operating basis, the consolidated loss from continuing operations for the third quarter was essentially flat with the same period a year ago at $39.0 million or $0.64 per share, compared to $38.4 million or $0.65 per share in the third quarter of 2007. On a GAAP basis, the company reported a consolidated third quarter loss from continuing operations of $172.2 million or $2.85 per share compared to a year ago when it recorded a GAAP loss of $40.0 million or $0.68 per share from continuing operations. The GAAP basis loss includes non-cash, non-operating charges totaling $133.2 million in the third quarter, consisting primarily of deferred tax and fixed asset impairments. Comparable store sales for Borders superstores decreased by 12.8% in the third quarter, and with music excluded, declined by 10.6%. Same-store sales at Waldenbooks decreased by 7.7% for the period.
“Borders has successfully reduced debt, improved operating cash flow, lowered expenses, improved gross margin—excluding occupancy—and improved inventory productivity during a time of extreme economic challenge,” said Borders Group Chief Executive Officer George Jones. “We stated at the beginning of this year that strengthening our balance sheet is our top priority and we are delivering results. We’ll remain keenly focused on these critical initiatives, and in addition, will increase our efforts to drive further gross margin improvement. All of the changes we are making will position Borders Group to compete more effectively.”
Debt, including the prior-year debt of discontinued operations, was reduced from a year ago by 34.2% or $273.1 million at the end of the third quarter to $525.4 million. This compares to debt of $798.5 million at the end of the third quarter last year. The debt reduction year-over-year was driven primarily by improved management of inventory, lower capital expenditures and proceeds from the previously announced sale of the company’s Australia/New Zealand/Singapore businesses, which took place in the second quarter of this year.
Operating cash flow from continuing operations improved by $110.0 million, as the company recorded fiscal year-to-date cash flow of $9.4 million compared to cash use of $100.6 million for the same period in 2007. Borders Group reduced inventory by $304.2 million at cost—or 19.5%—at the end of the third quarter compared to the end of the third quarter a year ago.
Management is now on-track to reduce fiscal 2009 operating expenses by $140 million compared to its previous target of $120 million. As a result, the company expects to save $70 million this year versus its original $60 million target for 2008. Beyond these operating expense improvements, the company believes there is additional opportunity to improve its realized gross margin through a more effective use of promotions and discounts. Early initiatives enabled the company to generate gross margin rate improvement—excluding occupancy—of 30 basis points in the third quarter and the company believes there is substantial room for further improvement.
Strategic Alternatives Update
Management provided an update to its previously disclosed strategic alternatives process, which included the exploration of a wide range of options, among them the sale of the company and/or certain divisions, including Paperchase Products Ltd. With respect to the sale of the company, management is no longer contemplating a transaction. Regarding Paperchase, as previously disclosed, Borders Group retains its right to exercise its “put” option to sell its Paperchase business to Pershing Square Capital Management for $65 million and is also in discussions with Pershing Square regarding an alternative financing transaction. No assurance can be given as to whether an alternative financing transaction will be entered into or consummated.
Additional Consolidated Q3 Results
All earnings and loss figures presented throughout this news release are provided on a continuing operations basis, unless otherwise noted.
Borders Group achieved third quarter consolidated sales of $682.1 million, a decrease of 10.0% over 2007. Consolidated gross margin as a percent of sales on an operating basis decreased by 1.4% from 22.2% to 20.8% in the third quarter as the negative impact of de-leveraging occupancy costs more than offset the gross margin benefit of a favorable sales mix and lower shrink. Excluding occupancy, third-quarter consolidated gross margin increased by 30 basis points compared to the prior year. On a GAAP basis consolidated gross margin as a percent of sales decreased by 0.6% from 22.1% to 21.5% in the third quarter.
On an operating basis, SG&A as a percent of sales in the third quarter decreased 0.1% from 28.7% in the same period last year to 28.6% resulting from de-leveraging caused by negative sales trends that were offset by the benefit of expense reductions. The expense reduction initiatives helped reduce SG&A dollar expenses by $22.3 million in the third quarter compared to the prior year. On a GAAP basis SG&A as a percentage of sales increased 1.3% from 28.7% to 30.0%.
GAAP consolidated net loss and loss per share figures reported in this release include the impact of non-operating adjustments, which in the third quarter totaled a net after-tax charge of $133.2 million. The net after-tax charge is comprised of deferred tax asset impairments of $107.0 million, store asset impairments of $31.1million, as well as other items totaling $12.6 million, including severance costs, store closure and relocation costs, professional fees related to the strategic alternatives process, an adjustment to the U.K. lease guarantee liability and amortization of debt issuance costs. These costs were offset by income related to the fair market value adjustment of the warrant liability and a related tax benefit of $12.7 million as well as income received from a landlord lease terminationof $4.8 million after tax.
Domestic Borders Superstores
Total third quarter sales at domestic Borders superstores were $548.4 million, a decrease of 10.9% over the same period in 2007. As stated, comparable store sales decreased by 12.8% for the period compared to last year, a result significantly impacted by a steep decline in customer traffic that was most pronounced in the months of September and October. Excluding the music category, same-store sales declined by 10.6% for the third quarter compared to one year ago.
Sales through Borders.com in the third quarter totaled $11.9 million, which is below management expectations due to the challenging sales environment. As a result, Borders Group does not expect Borders.com to break even this year as previously stated.
On an operating basis, Borders superstores reported an operating loss of $37.8 million in the third quarter compared to an operating loss of $30.8 million in the same period a year ago. The loss resulted primarily from negative same-store sales, which were partially offset by expense reductions. On a GAAP basis, Borders superstores reported an operating loss of $80.3 million in the third quarter compared to an operating loss of $31.9 million in the same period a year ago.
The company opened two new Borders superstores in the U.S. during the period and ended the third quarter with a total of 519 domestic superstore locations.
Waldenbooks Specialty Retail
Comparable store sales decreased within the Waldenbooks Specialty Retail segment by 7.7% in the third quarter. Total sales in the segment were down by 16.6% in the third quarter to $91.5 million, as the number of stores was reduced from 521 at the close of the third quarter 2007 to 467 at the end of the third quarter this year.
Company expense reduction initiatives and better gross margin performance drove an improvement in the third quarter operating loss for the Waldenbooks Specialty Retail segment. On an operating basis, the operating loss was $13.2 million in the third quarter this year compared to $19.4 million in the third quarter last year. On a GAAP basis, the operating loss for the Waldenbooks Specialty Retail segment was $17.7 million in the third quarter this year compared to $20.5 million in the third quarter last year.
In the third quarter, sales within the International segment (which consists primarily of Paperchase) totaled $30.3 million, which is down 6.2% compared to the same period a year ago. Excluding the impact of foreign currency translation, sales would have increased by 2.7%. On an operating basis, the segment generated an operating loss of $1.6 million in the third quarter this year compared to operating income of $1.8 million in the third quarter last year. On a GAAP basis, the segment generated an operating loss of $1.8 million in the third quarter this year compared to operating income of $1.8 million in the third quarter last year.
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