Guess Earnings Call Insights: Domestic Markets and Lead Times

Guess (NYSE:GES) recently reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Domestic Markets

Erinn Murphy – Piper Jaffray: Paul, I had a question for you to some of the domestic market and some of the comments you made. The improvement in the comp very encouraging in the third quarter may be if you could help us in two ways. One, just parse out what you thought in terms of the tourist market domestically versus the non-tourist market recognizing that the tourist market was a significant drag in the last quarter did you see any improvement in that? Then secondly, as it relates to some of the newer promotional strategies that you’ve engaged upon how have you seen that translate through on the conversion side, may be if you could just help us understand that?

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Russell Bowers – CFO, North America Retail Business: Yeah, Erinn, this is Russ. We did see an improvement in our tourist market and it got progressively better as the quarter went along so especially in October our tourist business was very close to that of the domestic business. So, we were pleased with that, but it was kind of what we anticipated because we rely less on that people traveling for recreation in October and even in September. In regards to conversion, yeah, a lot of the promotions we’ve worked have helped us improve our conversion rate, it was definitely – we definitely converted better than we did a year ago during the third quarter though we do have programs in place to make that even better going forward.

Erinn Murphy – Piper Jaffray: Then I just a quick follow-up on the accessory trends, do you think about the improvements specifically over the Black Friday period, can you talk about that by channel versus mall versus off-mall the outlets piece of that? Where are you finding the consumer response from a price point perspective? Is there a specific sweet spot there and then also from a product category perspective where are you seeing the incremental improvement there?

Paul Marciano – CEO, Vice Chairman and Creative Director: We saw definitely a turnaround in handbags. The handbag represent such a large category of our business and clearly November as shown with the new delivery and we see the customer response to it, so we’re very, very encourage by that. The December even January delivery, we believe will be even stronger, so that’s for one. The watches also, the watches in the last two weeks have shown very strong turnaround comparing to what it was in Q2 and Q3 and should remain a little bit weak. Jewelry is stable and eyewear is stable, so that’s, but the freebie category is really watches, footwear and handbags.

Dennis R. Secor – SVP and CFO: Another thing we did, Erin, in the middle of the month, we started adding fixturing in our windows, so that we could feature the accessories and we think that’s really paying off.

Erinn Murphy – Piper Jaffray: Then I guess just in terms of the breakout outlet versus mall, is it similar in terms of the pickup for accessories?

Dennis R. Secor – SVP and CFO: Yeah, it picked up a lot more in the full price malls. It picked up just a little bit in outlets. In the full price malls, our handbag business was up at double digits during the back half of the month. We were really, really pleased about it.

Paul Marciano – CEO, Vice Chairman and Creative Director: In outlet, we believe we were a little bit missing products. It means we had a bigger demand than what we had expected.

Nigel Kershaw – Vice President of Finance & Accounting, and Treasurer: Let me just clarify, in my prepared remarks when I was talking about the fourth quarter operating margin. The range is 14.5% and 15.5%.

Lead Times

Omar Saad – ISI Group: Could you guys talk a little bit more about the opportunity to shorten the lead times, the product cycle where you stand at this point, how much improvement you’ve be able to generate so far, keeping the open-to-buys later to respond quicker to fashion trends. Where are you on the spectrum? Where have you been and where can you go? There seems to be certainly a big theme in the marketplace and where the consumer is going, if you could just elaborate on some of those issues, it’d be great?

Paul Marciano – CEO, Vice Chairman and Creative Director: Yes, Omar, this is Paul. This is not the shortened cycle we are talking about here is about 30% of our product going forward, that we shorten the cycle of development in production by 50%, and of course, mainly in the women’s apparel. We don’t plan to do anything like that in men’s apparel and that has been put in place in the last six months, and it would be effective starting in January delivery. But we are changing the calendar to that before we were in the calendar of around 40 weeks and now we will plan to cut some of them 20 weeks and even shorter than that, even half of that depending where we produce the product and what product we are talking about. If it’s knit, if its denim we can really impact that, and clearly we have seen a change of consumer habits I would say is buy now, wear now, and we don’t see that habit changing going forward. We see that people are just buying very close to what they need today. And the best example for that, of course, around the world I just traveled (around) the last three weeks. It was warm weather in China, warm weather in Japan, warm weather in Italy, warm weather I mean everywhere, and of course outerwear suffered a lot on that on every country I went because nobody was buying any outerwear. So we feel definitely we are going to (indiscernible) about on the shop cycle for 30% of total apparel of women.

Omar Saad – ISI Group: While I have you, can I ask you how you’re thinking about the strategies to fill some of the key senior management positions? Are you looking internal, external, any thoughts there would be helpful too?

Paul Marciano – CEO, Vice Chairman and Creative Director: Yes, since the last time that we announced Dennis Secor move, we plan to have candidates announcement within the next 60 to 90 days at the most. We have already some very substantial lead and meetings and we are very confident about that. About the position of the COO, we don’t plan to replace that position at the moment. And when it comes to product and merchant, we are looking on that to continue to improve the team for merchandisers and design.

A Closer Look: Guess Earnings Cheat Sheet>>