Cost cuts help Regis to trim its loss

Results were better than what Wall Street expected -- but the salon giant said its 3.4 percent decline in same-store sales was a concern.

Regis Corp. proved Thursday that it is serious about cutting costs but acknowledged it has been less successful putting bodies in its salon chairs.

The Edina-based company said the loss for the quarter ended March 31 was $1.4 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with a loss of $25.3 million, or 45 cents a share, the same period last year.

While that was impressive on the expense side of the ledger, there was less good news on the revenue side, with the company reporting a 1.3 percent decline in sales for the quarter to $573 million.

Moreover, Regis said same-store sales declined 3.4 percent while same-store customer counts were down 3 percent over the same period a year ago.

Regis President Randy Pearce said the company remains "laser-focused on achieving increased cost efficiencies" and the third-quarter results reflected that.

Eric Bakken, Regis' interim chief operating officer, told Wall Street analysts, "While we remain disappointed with the declines in same-store sales, I am extremely confident that we are on the right track to significantly improve our performance."

Wall Street, which has steadily been adding value to Regis' stock in recent months as the company restructured itself internally and reduced its reach globally, retreated slightly on the earnings news. The stock closed at $18.15, down 16 cents a share.

Feltl & Co. analyst Brent Rystrom said that the earnings per share numbers were impressive but there are "still lots of moving pieces" in the Regis operation.

Excluding after-tax items, Regis earned 32 cents a share compared with the 26 cents per share expected by analysts.

Regis, the leader in the $160 billion haircare industry, operates Supercuts, Cost Cutters and Hair Club for Men and Women.

The company recently sold its stake in the European haircare firm Provalliance to focus on its North American operations.

Bakken said Regis is focused on a "consumer segmentation strategy" that puts the bulk of its salons in one of four categories -- value, value full service, enhanced full service and premium service.

"Brand consolidation will help drive scale efficiencies and increased effectiveness," Bakken said in a conference call with analysts.

David Phelps • 612-673-7269 • dphelps@startribune.com Janet Moore • 612-673-7752 • jmmoore@startribune.com

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