Stock in Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage was soaring Friday afternoon following a post-market report Thursday detailing sales and earnings in excess of Wall Street expectations.
In a conference call with financial analysts, Kemper Isley, co-president, said better execution on sales initiatives and more relevant offers helped to improve sales performance in areas like supplements and body care. These initiatives grew out of conversations between store managers and senior management that helped identify sales opportunities.
“We have these phone calls and we talk about what's successful at our stores … and body care had some particular items that were particularly successful we rolled out at all stores for the quarter and the trend is continuing,” Isley explained. “So we're getting the collective knowledge of our 91 stores together and looking at trends from the ground up … and getting a lot of buy-ins from the stores in regard to what is successful at the store level.”
As reported previously, sales for the fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 31 increased 21% to $145.9 million while net earnings improved 22% to $3.6 million. Sales and earnings figures were slightly ahead of average analyst estimates. Sales improved as a result of new units and by a 6.2% increase in comparable store sales, consisting of a 3.4% increase in daily average transaction count and a 2.7% increase in average transaction size. Mature stores saw average daily sales increases of 2.8%.
Isley said store traffic may have benefited in part from additional editorial content in the chain’s “Health Hotline” circular, featuring nutritional supplements and functional foods. The chain is set to unveil a revamped website in April, he added. Stock in the company was up by more than 8% Friday afternoon, climbing back over $30 a share for the first time since Natural Grocers said sales were slowing last May.
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