Financial announcements Thursday showed a mixed bag for retailers as each reacts differently to the pressured market.
Though Amazon’s sales jumped 22 percent to $43.7 billion, the e-tailer missed Wall Street expectations and shares slid as much as 4 percent Friday.
Amazon’s profit swelled 55 percent to $749 million for the fourth quarter compared to $482 million the prior year quarter. For the full year, net sales were up 27 percent to $136 billion and profit came in at $2.4 billion.
Company CEO Jeff Bezos owed it all to Prime.
“Our Prime team’s customer obsession kept them busy in 2016,” Bezos said. Amazon now has more than 50 million items available for the membership program’s free two-day shipping, and its one- to two-hour delivery Prime Now is now available in 18 new cities. “New benefits were also added to the list, like Prime Reading, Audible Channels for Prime, Twitch Prime and more. And customers noticed—tens of millions of new paid members joined the program in just this past year.”
The company said it expects sales in the first quarter this year to be between $33.25 billion and $35.75 billion, or 14 percent and 23 percent growth over last year.
Bebe didn’t end 2016 all that well. For the second quarter ended Dec. 31, comparable sales fell 10.5 percent compared to a much smaller 2.5 percent decrease in the prior year period. The womenswear retailer was, however, able to eke out a nominal increase in gross margin to 34.4 percent (from 34 percent) thanks to a reduction in the markdowns and promotions that have plagued so many retailers in the past year.
The company lost $5.2 million in the quarter, on top of a $5.5 million loss in the previous year’s second quarter.
Manny Mashouf, Bebe’s CEO, said too-low traffic in the last couple months of the year impacted sales.
“We are working to take advantage of the casual trend taking place and believe we can continue to grow our bottoms business while working to improve departments within our tops business,” Mashouf said. “Consistent with the prior quarter we continue to find it challenging to offset the extremely high levels of markdowns and promotions realized in the prior year.”
Hanesbrands saw sales, profits and earnings up for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, and expects sales growth for this year in the high single digits.
Net sales in the quarter climbed 12 percent to $1.58 billion, driven by acquisitions but tampered by a weaker than expected retail environment in the U.S. For the full year 2016, net sales increased 5 percent to $6.03 billion. Adjusted earnings per share jumped 20 percent for the fourth quarter to $0.53 and increased 11 percent for the full year to $1.85.
“Despite the challenging environment, we were able to manage inventory and generate cash, returning nearly $550 million to shareholders through quarterly cash dividends and share repurchases. In 2017, we anticipate another record year of cash flow,” Hanes CEO Gerald W. Evans Jr. said. “As we navigate the changing consumer marketplace and the trend toward online buying, we are well positioned to generate overall growth and drive total shareholder return.”