HBC initiates quarterly dividend; loss from continuing operations widens

TORONTO – Hudson’s Bay Co. (TSX: HBC) plans to initiate a quarterly dividend of just over nine cents per share despite a wider loss from continuing operations.

In its first quarterly report since returning to the public stock market, Canada’s oldest company said Tuesday its loss from continuing operations was $8.5 million or eight cents per share in the third quarter.

That compared with a loss from continuing operations of $7.5 million or seven cents per share in the same year-earlier period.

Revenues in the three months ended Oct. 27 were $930.4 million, up from $896.7 million in the 2011 period.

The company’s net loss, which included a $6.5-million gain from discontinued operations, was $2 million or two cents per share.

That compared with net income of almost $1.24 billion or $11.83 per share a year ago when the company enjoyed an unusual gain of almost $1.25 billion from discontinued operations.

The dividend will be paid Dec. 27 to shareholders of record on Dec. 19.

HBC said consolidated same store sales increased 3.5 per cent in the third quarter, with an increase of 4.5 per cent at Hudson’s Bay and 5.2 cent on a U.S. dollar basis at Lord & Taylor.

The improvement in same store sales was primarily driven by stronger store-wide promotional events including Bay Days at Hudson’s Bay and Friends and Family at Lord & Taylor.

However, foreign exchange rate movements related to the translation of Lord & Taylor results, and lower sales at Home Outfitters, negatively impacted consolidated same store results, it said.

“Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor continued to deliver solid, mid-single digit same store sales increases for the third quarter of 2012, including an eight per cent same store sales increase in October at both banners,” CEO Richard Baker said in remarks accompanying the results.

“This continued strong performance has allowed the company to approve an initial quarterly dividend of 9.375 cents per share.”

HBC last traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2006 before it was taken private by U.S. businessman Jerry Zucker, who later died unexpectedly. New York-based NRDC Equity Partners acquired the company in 2008 for $1.1 billion from Zucker’s widow.

Since then, the company has been working to transform its stores and revamp its image into a more upscale retailer.

It returns to the public stock market last month was greeted with muted reaction as shares in the company closed slightly lower than the initial asking price of $17 on the first day of official trading.

Hudson’s Bay shares were down two cents to $16.79 in Tuesday morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

HBC (TSX:HBC) plans to sell a total 21 million shares — about one-fifth of the company’s stock — raising about $365 million through its initial public offering. The $17 asking price values the company at about $2 billion.

It said the IPO will primarily consist of a treasury offering of 14.7 million common shares, grossing about $250 million before expenses.

Proceeds from that portion of the IPO will go to HBC, which will use the funds to reduce debt.

There is also to be a secondary offering by Hudson’s Bay Company (Luxembourg) of 6.7 million common shares, for gross proceeds of $115 million for the selling shareholder.

The private Luxembourg holding company will continue to have about 98 million common shares of the Toronto-based public company, or about 82 per cent of the Hudson’s Bay Co.’s outstanding stock.