Haverty Furniture Companies Inc. (NYSE:HVT.A) Q4 2017 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Feb 21, 2018 • 10:00 am ET

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Haverty Furniture Companies Inc. (NYSE:HVT.A) Q4 2017 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

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Operator
Operator

Good day everyone, and welcome to the Haverty's Fourth Quarter and Year End 2017 Financial Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Richard Hare. Please go ahead, sir.

Executive
Richard Hare

Thank you, operator. During this conference call, we will 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 Securities and Exchange Commission.

Our President, CEO and Chairman, Clarence Smith, will now give you an update on our results and provide commentary about our business.

Executive
Clarence Smith

Good morning. Thank you for joining our 2017 full-year and fourth quarter conference call. As we released earlier, fourth quarter net sales were down 2.6% with comparative store sales down 3.5%. Total written sales were up 0.3% and written comparable store sales decreased 0.7% over last year. While we were disappointed with the close to the year, we feel that we're well positioned to build positive momentum in 2018.

The earnings per share for the full year 2017 were $0.98 compared to $1.30 in 2016. The Tax Act resulted in a reduction in diluted earnings per share for Q4 and the full-year 2017 of $0.27. The most important sales driver continues to be increases in our average sales ticket up 2.2% to $2030.

This is 13th straight quarter the average sales has increased compared to the previous year period. Our in-home designers were instrumental in 20% of our sales, and when our designers involve our average sale is twice the overall average. We continue to see a decrease in store traffic but our closing rate is increasing, which we believe is related to our improved sales training and customer engagement, as well as customers pre-shopping on our website.

Over 80% of our customers have searched our website before coming in the store. We believe that havertys.com is inspiring our customers and we're working to make it as transactional and easy-to-use as any in the industry. Total written sales for the first quarter to-date are up 1.7% over the same period last year with written comp store sales up 0.9%. Total delivered sales for Q1 are down 1.7% and comparable store sales decreased 2.4% over the same period last year.

We began the year with a softer New Year selling event, and experienced an actual winter in our regions which helped us start weakly. We're pleased to see that the recent Presidents' Day holiday sales were strong enough to help reduce the positive year-to-date written numbers.

This year, we've implemented an omni-channel solution to make sure we're meeting the customer where she wants to meet. We've added a Pay Now link to our sales tools, which has been very well received