Cooler-than-average weather and a cagey consumer provided a double-whammy for outdoor retailer Gander Mountain, which on Tuesday announced a first-quarter loss of $24.4 million, or $1.02 a share. The loss was 7 percent higher than the same period last year, which resulted in a $1.14-per-share deficit.
Though results were in line with the company's expectations, Gander's stock took a pounding as the markets opened, with shares tumbling 17 percent by midday. By the end of trading, the stock was down 8 percent, at $3.80.
With revenue tied to hunting and fishing seasons, Gander historically has posted losses in the first quarter, which makes up a small part of its annual sales.
Gander has taken steps in recent years to try to smooth out the seasonality, including its recent purchase of marine-cataloguer Overton's, a push to open new stores in the South and a more recent effort to expand its assortment of shoes and clothing. Later this summer, Gander Mountain will launch its own website, now that it has resolved a lengthy court battle with rival Cabela's.
But a majority of the company's 115 stores are in Northern states. As avid anglers know, some of Minnesota's lakes were still frozen in May, not exactly an enticing proposition for campers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts who buy and use Gander's merchandise.
Total sales rose 18 percent to nearly $208 million, slightly below Gander's estimates. Sales at stores open at least a year, a leading indicator of a company's financial health, fell by 6.7 percent.
Overton's, in its first full quarter since the acquisition, contributed $19.7 million. Gander expects Overton's to add about $90 million in revenue this year.
Analyst Reed Anderson of D.A. Davidson & Co., wrote in a report that he was encouraged by "underlying trends in merchandise margins" and the company's attention to controlling costs.
CEO Mark Baker acknowledged the challenging economic climate ahead, but said the company is resorting to fewer markdowns and is seeing an increase in sales of its own brand. Catalog sales could show up in next quarter's results.
"We're on our plan," he said in an interview. "That plan is the first 90 days toward a year that will be profitable."
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335