During the holiday shopping season, Bed Bath & Beyond reported same-store sales fell -5.4% as foot traffic to its stores decreased. Adding to the pain, inventory management issues and increased promotions led to the decline in sales with the company having too few products on shelves and with key items out-of-stock during the holidays.
“We are experiencing short-term pain in our efforts to stabilize the business, including the pressures of store traffic trends coupled with our own executional challenges,” said CEO Mark Tritton in a statement, who attempted to put a positive spin on things adding, “However, we did achieve a notable positive shift in sales in our digital channels during this period, with growth of approximately 20%.”
Tritton is veteran retail executive who was previously Target’s chief merchandising officer before taking over the helm at Bed Bath & Beyond last October. Not long after joining the retailer, he ousted six senior executives in the middle of the holiday shopping season, noting that the move was “the first in a number of important steps we’re taking.”
Tritton is expected to announced a new turnaround strategy for the struggling retailer this spring and said in a statement that Bed Bath & Beyond is beginning to make “bold and broad-based changes to modernize our business,” while asking for patience. “Our ability to achieve this and change the trajectory of our current results will take time,” Tritton said.
But analysts say the Q4 results reveal that the problems at Bed Bath & Beyond are deeper than expected.
“Tritton has a more difficult job ahead than we anticipated,” said Telsey Advisory Group analyst Cristina Fernandez in a note to clients. “Aggressive changes are needed.”
CNBC’s Jim Cramer blasted the retailer’s decision to announce the disappointing same-store sales figures ahead of its official Q4 earnings release given that Bed Bath & Beyond hadn’t issued guidance for the quarter.
“I don’t even know why the hell they did that,” Cramer said. “They didn’t have guidance. Why revise guidance if you didn’t have guidance?”
Cramer also added that he thought Tritton had received some bad advice regarding releasing the sales figures early.
“Whatever advice he got from what lawyer, from the chairman, I think all those people need to be broomed and broomed yesterday,” Cramer said. “I would put new people in and say, ‘Enough is enough, don’t tell me what to do.’ Guided down? They didn’t have a guidance.”
However, according to the host, the severe plunge in the share price is a buying opportunity.
“I would buy it,” Cramer said.
Wedbush analysts led by Seth Basham also believe Bed Bath & Beyond shares are a buy, and said that despite the dismal numbers, there are “glimmers of hope” in the company’s digital sales growth and is upbeat about the “bold changes” that Tritton is making to transform the business.
Basham has an Outperform rating on the stock and an $18 price target – 52% higher than the current price.