Shoe Carnival reported sales for the first quarter increased 4.7 percent to $198.5 million compared to net sales of $189.5 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. Net earnings rose 7.6 percent to $9.9 million, or 75 cents per share,
from $9.2 million, or 72 cents, in the first quarter of last year.

Comparable store sales increased 3.4 percent for the first quarter of fiscal 2011. This increase follows a record 13.1 percent increase in comparable store sales achieved in the first quarter of fiscal 2010.

The gross profit margin for the first quarter of fiscal 2011 decreased to 31.1 percent compared to 31.3 percent for the first quarter of fiscal 2010. The merchandise margin decreased 0.4 percent, while buying, distribution and occupancy costs decreased 0.2 percent.

Selling, general and administrative expenses for the first quarter increased $1.3 million to $45.6 million; however, as a percentage of sales, these expenses decreased to 23.0 percent compared to 23.4 percent in the first quarter of 2010 due to the leverage associated with comparable store sales increases.

Speaking on the results, Mark Lemond, president and chief executive officer said, “Athletic footwear, especially certain running styles, along with women’s sport styled sandals contributed significantly to our first quarter comparable store sales increase of 3.4 percent. This increase in comparable stores sales, combined with a solid gross profit margin and controlled expenses enabled us to report the highest quarterly earnings in the Company’s history.”

Lemond continued, “Our implementation team is making significant progress towards our goal of launching an e-commerce platform in the second half of this year. We are excited about the introduction of this new platform for sales growth and the national branding opportunity it will enable. We believe we can continue to capitalize on the strength of our business model and deliver year-over-year gains in sales and earnings for the current fiscal year.”

Second Quarter Fiscal 2011 Earnings Outlook

The company expects second quarter net sales to be in the range of $169 to $172 million with comparable store sales in the range of flat to an increase of 2 percent. Earnings per diluted share in the second quarter of fiscal 2011 are expected to be in the range of 27 cents to 31 cents a share.

Store Growth

The company expects to open 20 new stores and close five stores in fiscal 2011. Store openings and closings by quarter are as follows:
New Stores
Stores Closings
            1st Quarter 2011         4         0
            2nd Quarter 2011         5         2
            3rd Quarter 2011         11         1
            4th Quarter 2011         0        2
            Fiscal 2011         20         5
The four new stores opened during the first quarter included locations in:
                Market/Total Stores in Market
            Algonquin, IL             Chicago/21
            Cheyenne, WY             Cheyenne/1
            Coralville, IA             Cedar Rapids/2
            Mentor, OH             Cleveland/6
In addition to opening new stores, in fiscal 2011 the company expects to launch an e-commerce site during the second half of the year to sell shoes and related accessories through the company’s website,