Williams-Sonoma Shares Rise as Stay-At-Home Trends Fuel Better-Than-Expected Sales

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  • Williams-Sonoma reported its fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday, beating analysts' expectations as consumers continue to shop for their home during the pandemic.
  • The company's stock rose about 10% after the bell.
  • For fiscal year 2021, the retailer expects recovery in its retail traffic and inventory levels.

Williams-Sonoma posted fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday that beat analysts' expectations as consumers continued to shop for furniture and cookware as they spent more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company's stock rose more than 11% in extended trading, as the company expects its growth to continue in the year ahead.

Here's what the company reported for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, compared with what Wall Street analysts expected, using a survey from Refinitiv: 

  • Earnings per share: $3.95 adjusted vs. $3.39 expected 
  • Revenue: $2.29 billion vs. $2.18 billion expected 

"In Q4, despite shipping constraints and low retail traffic, we delivered another quarter of accelerating revenue and profitability with 26% comp growth and over 85% EPS growth," said Laura Alber, president and CEO of Williams-Sonoma, in a press release.

Net income rose to $309 million, or $3.92 per share, from $166 million, or $2.10 per share, a year earlier. 

Excluding items, Williams-Sonoma earned $3.95 per share, topping the $3.39 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. 

Revenue rose 24% to $2.29 billion from $1.84 billion a year ago, beating expectations of $2.18 billion.

Growth was boosted by a 47.9% jump in e-commerce revenue, with about 70% of its total revenue coming from its e-commerce business.

Same-store sales for the entire company were up 25.7% in the latest quarter, with all of its brands seeing double-digit gains.

Its namesake brand, Williams-Sonoma, reported same-store sales rose 26.2%. Both Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids and Teen reported a 25.7% gain in same-store sales. West Elm was closely behind with a 25.2% same-store sales increase.

For fiscal year 2021, the retailer expects retail traffic to recover and inventory levels to improve.

The company said it expects its performance to be in line with its long-term financial targets, which call for mid-to-high single-digit revenue growth.

Even as vaccination rates increase across the country and routines slowly return to normal, the retailer remains optimistic in its brands' long-term growth.

Alber expects the retailer will get a boost from favorable macro trends that will support its business for the long-term. Among the factors she cited were high consumer confidence, a strong housing market, a shift to e-commerce and expectations that people will continue to spend more time working from home in the future.

During its earnings call, the company also talked about wide range of merchandise.

"With more people getting vaccinated, as travel starts to open up, as schools start to open up, we have a substantial gear and luggage business. We expect people to open up their homes more, so our dining and entertaining businesses are primed for that," said Felix Carbullido, the company's executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

The company also added that the work-from-home lifestyle, which is expected to continue post-pandemic, will aid in the growth of its furniture brands, as more people look to purchase desks and other supplies.

Williams-Sonoma said it will boost its dividend by 11.3% to 59 cents a share. Meanwhile, its board approved plans to buy back $1 billion in stock. The new repurchase plan replaces its prior authorization and will go into effect on March 17.

Read the full earnings release here.

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