Haverty Furniture Companies Inc. (NYSE:HVT.A) Q3 2016 Earnings Conference Call - Preliminary Transcript
Nov 01, 2016 • 10:00 am ET
Good day, and welcome to the Haverty's Third Quarter 2016 Financial Results Conference Call. Today's conference is being recorded.
At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Mr. Dennis Fink, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Please go ahead, sir.
Thank you. Good morning, everybody. During this conference call, we'll make forward-looking statements which are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those made or implied in such statements, which speak only as of the date they are made and which we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise. Factors that could cause actual results to differ include economic and competitive conditions and other uncertainties detailed in the Company's reports filed with the SEC.
Our President, CEO and Chairman, Clarence Smith, will now give you an update on our results and our progress. Clarence?
Good morning. Thanks for joining our call. Third quarter earnings were flat with last year with a slightly positive sales increase. Our net sales were up 0.8% with comparable stores up 1.2% and written comparable store sales up 3%. Earnings per share for the quarter were $0.34 equal to last year. As other retailers have reported, sales increases have been challenging this summer and fall. We did see good balance in our sales performance with positive sales across most of our product categories. The increases were led by accessories, occasional furniture and casual dining.
As we've been seeing for several years, our average ticket was the most important driver of sales with 3.2% increase for the quarter. We saw lower traffic in our stores which was offset by an equally improved closing rate. For the fourth quarter, we were impacted by Hurricane Matthew which threatened all of our stores up to East Coast of Florida as well as Georgia, South Carolina and some North Carolina stores. We had 23 of our stores closed for one or more days over the important Columbus Day holiday weekend, but we were fortunate that none of our stores suffered significant physical damage.
We've struggled to gain backlog sales in several of those areas, but we're gaining ground in new written business and delivering out a larger backlog of sales. We expect to make up a lot of that business in the first few weeks of November. We are pleased with the stores in new markets that we opened recently. Charlottesville, Virginia and College Station, Texas are both beautiful stores featuring all of the newest store presentation and designs that we've refined over the past few years.
These features are visually open store arrangement or a more contemporary approach to flooring and a combination of carpet and hard floor services and cleaner, brighter, LED lighting. Regional College towns have historically been very strong and profitable markets for us and we are very excited about the opportunities in these new markets. We are in the process of several major remodeling and relocation programs in key cities which will complete in the first half