Saks’ Owner HBC Tumbles as Department-Store Slump Crimps Sales

  • Hudson’s Bay posts bigger third-quarter loss than projected
  • Results renew calls for company to do more with real estate

Hudson’s Bay Co. tumbled as much as 6.8 percent after third-quarter results missed estimates, a sign the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor is struggling to cope with a moribund department-store industry.

Excluding nonrecurring items, the company posted a third-quarter loss of 56 cents a share in the period, which ended Oct. 29. Analysts had projected a deficit of 22 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales and adjusted earnings also fell short of predictions.

Hudson’s Bay blamed sluggish demand in the key retail segments of women’s apparel, department stores and luxury products last quarter. It’s trying to bounce back by managing its inventory better, improving customer service -- both online and in stores -- and renovating stores in Europe. The Toronto-based company also added a robot fulfillment system in Canada.

“There are further areas for improvement, and we will continue to evaluate our options,” Chief Executive Officer Jerry Storch said in the statement.

The stock fell as low as C$13.55 in Toronto trading on Tuesday. That’s its lowest level since November 2012, when Hudson’s Bay -- Canada’s oldest company, which has its roots in the fur trade -- held its initial public offering. Even before the rout, the shares were down 20 percent this year.

Younger Shoppers

Luxury department stores have lost their allure among younger shoppers, raising concerns about their long-term health. Hudson’s Bay has been trying to broaden its appeal by opening lower-priced Saks Off Fifth stores and acquiring the e-commerce site Gilt. Rival Neiman Marcus Group is taking similar steps. It teamed up last month with the upstart chain Rent the Runway to lure millennial traffic.

The slowdown has renewed calls for Hudson’s Bay to do more with its real estate. The company has worked with developers on joint-venture projects with properties, but it could do more, M Partners analyst Steven Salz said in a note. He recommends a spinoff of its real estate.

“HBC has created value with its JVs, but we believe must surface this value through a public structure so the market can see a daily marker of exactly what that’s worth,” he said.

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