Pier 1 Imports, Earnings Call Insights: Relocated Store Perforamance, Extra Expenses and E-Commerce

On Thursday, Pier 1 Imports, Inc. (NYSE:PIR) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Relocated Store Performance:

John Marrin – Jefferies & Company, Inc.: Can you guys talk for a moment about how you’re feeling about the performance of stores that you opened last year?

Charles H. Turner – Senior EVP and CFO: We are very pleased with the stores we opened last year and we continue to see that they come out of gate very strongly, particularly pleased with the relocations. I would say all the relocations we have opened have performed probably at least 20% better than the stores that were in those markets.

Extra Expenses and E-Commerce:

Brian Nagel – Oppenheimer: So the first question I want to ask is more directed towards I guess to Cary, just speak on the expenses. Cary, so last few quarters we have had extra expenses now as we – related to the forthcoming launch of your e-Commerce effort. So how should we think about as we look over the next few quarters and the balance of ’12 how should we think about how those expenses are basically going to fall into the quarters?

Charles H. Turner – Senior EVP and CFO: Well I think I tried to give you that picture. One we are going to in terms of variable expenses we are definitely going to leverage them except for marketing which will be up some 30 basis points from last year. In terms of fixed expenses for the second quarter, add $3 million to $4 million for this quarter, and then as we go out, we started building the expense structure really in the back half of last year, and also, we’ll start getting some sales. So, it will be comparable to last year’s numbers.

Brian Nagel – Oppenheimer: So there were no excess because there was no expense sort to say startup cost in there if e-Commerce will essentially go away once it’s launched?

Charles H. Turner – Senior EVP and CFO: The real startup costs are really that $3 million to $4 million that we are talking about in terms of planned additional headcount, and the other costs are really being capitalized.

Alexander W. Smith – President and CEO: The federal chunk in capital, as Cary said, I mean obviously all the fulfillment center and all the systems piece is capitalized.

Brian Nagel – Oppenheimer: Then the second question I have with respect to the buyback, you guys bought back a nice chunk of stock here just recently. Going forward, and I know the commentary before has been, you had the $100 million authorization which was basically you said opportunistic, I mean do you still look at the balance of that as opportunistic or do you think there’s going to be more of a kind of a steady buyback here now until it’s completed?

Alexander W. Smith – President and CEO: That’s a great question, Brian, and we’ve been debating that internally as to whether, like you say, just sort of dive into the market when we think it’s – we’re little low, and I can’t give you a definitive answer to that, but what I can say to is, it is a topic that we are going to be discussing fairly shortly with the Board. So, once we resolve what our strategy is going to be about this, we’ll certainly let you know, but it’s on our minds.