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Why Is Williams-Sonoma (WSM) Up 5.9% Since Last Earnings Report?

Zacks Equity Research

It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Williams-Sonoma (WSM). Shares have added about 5.9% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Williams-Sonoma due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

Williams-Sonoma (WSM) Drops 5% In Spite of Solid Q3 Earnings

Williams-Sonoma Inc. shares dropped 5.1% on Nov 21 in the after-hour trading session, following third-quarter fiscal 2019 results. The company posted better-than-expected results in the quarter under review as well as raised guidance for fiscal 2019 earnings and revenues on strong business trend. However, decline in comps at the namesake brand and lower gross margin might have hurt investors’ sentiments.

Nonetheless, West Elm — its biggest growth catalyst — continues to renew strength in Pottery Barn brands. Also, cross-brand initiatives such as The Key and Business-to-Business are expected to become important growth opportunities. Notably, during the third quarter, strong contributions from The Key made a positive impact on the quarterly results.

Non-GAAP earnings of $1.02 per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1 by 2%. The figure also increased 7.4% year over year.

Moreover, revenues of $1,442.5 million beat the consensus mark of $1,413 million by 2.1% and grew 6.3% year over year.

Comps increased 5.5% in the fiscal third quarter compared with 6.5% growth in the preceding quarter and 3.1% in the year-ago quarter.

The West Elm brand’s comps grew 14.1% compared with 8.3% growth in the prior-year quarter. Pottery Barn’s comps rose 3.4% compared with 1.4% in the year-ago quarter. Comps in Pottery Barn Kids and Teen increased 4%, versus flat growth registered in the prior-year quarter. Notably, emerging brands — Rejuvenation as well as Mark and Graham — registered double-digit increases. However, the Williams Sonoma brand’s comps declined 2.1% in the quarter against 2.1% growth registered in the year-ago quarter.

Operating Highlights

Non-GAAP gross margin was 36%, down 50 basis points (bps) from third-quarter fiscal 2018. The downside was primarily caused by higher shipping costs, driven by a greater mix of furniture sales and impact of the implementation of China tariffs. This was partly offset by benefits from strong occupancy leverage.

Non-GAAP selling, general and administrative expenses accounted for 28.4% of net revenues compared with 28.9% in the year-ago quarter, reflecting a decrease of 50 bps. This improvement was driven by leverage across employment and advertising from higher sales as well as consistent cost-saving initiatives. Non-GAAP operating margin remains flat year over year at 7.6% in the quarter.


Williams-Sonoma reported cash and cash equivalents of $155 million as of Nov 3, 2019 compared with $339 million on Feb 3, 2019.

During the first nine months of fiscal 2019, the company invested $121 million in the business and returned $226 million to its stockholders through dividends payouts as well as share repurchases. Notably, the company paid out $113 million worth of dividends and repurchased about $113 million shares.

Fiscal 2019 Guidance

Considering solid results in the first nine months of fiscal 2019, the company now expects non-GAAP earnings per share in the band of $4.65-$4.80, up from prior expectation of $4.60-$4.80.

Net revenues are projected in the range of $5.770-$5.900 billion compared with $5.740-$5.900 billion expected earlier. Comps are likely to increase 3.5-6% year over year compared with prior expectation of 3-6%. Non-GAAP operating margin is still expected to be in line with the fiscal 2018 level.

The company expects to close 25 stores and bring the total store count to 601 by the end of the year.

Long-Term View Reaffirmed

Total net revenues are expected to grow in mid-to-high single digits. Non-GAAP operating income is likely to be in line with revenue growth and provide stability to operating margin. The company expects above-industry average ROIC in the long term.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed an upward trend in estimates review.

VGM Scores

At this time, Williams-Sonoma has a nice Growth Score of B, however its Momentum Score is doing a bit better with an A. Charting a somewhat similar path, the stock was allocated a grade of B on the value side, putting it in the second quintile for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of A. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.


Estimates have been trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions has been net zero. Notably, Williams-Sonoma has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.

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