LL Flooring Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results
Lumber Liquidators (“LL Flooring” or “Company”) (NYSE: LL), a leading specialty retailer of hard-surface flooring in North America, announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021.
“During the first quarter, we delivered positive 6.9% comparable sales and increased our operating income from the first quarter of 2020, driven by continued execution on our transformation initiatives, strong demand for home improvement projects and accelerating year-over-year growth in our installation business,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Charles Tyson. “I want to thank all of our associates for driving our strategic priorities forward during the quarter, demonstrating progress on our four pillars of people and culture, improving the customer experience, driving traffic and transactions, and improving profitability.
“We are intently focused on executing our strategies to drive sales and profitability in 2021. With more than 400 varieties of hard-surface floors featuring a range of quality styles and on-trend designs, we offer our customers quality choices and provide high-touch service and advice to help them achieve their flooring project needs. We will continue to pursue gross margin rate mitigation strategies and disciplined expense management to optimize profitability, and our strong balance sheet and liquidity support the investment in our strategies to position LL Flooring as the customer’s first choice in hard surface flooring over the long term.”
First Quarter Results
First quarter 2021 net sales of $283.5 million increased $16.1 million, or 6.0%, from the first quarter of 2020. Comparable store sales for the first quarter of 2021 increased 6.9% from the first quarter of 2020. We had one fewer selling day in the first quarter of 2021 relative to the prior-year period due to leap year in 2020. Comparable sales growth in 2021 primarily reflected continued execution on the Company’s transformation initiatives and strong consumer demand for installation and home improvement projects, as well as the impact from the onset of COVID-19 shutdowns in March 2020. Net merchandise sales increased 4.7% while net services sales (install and freight) increased 16.8% over the prior year. During the first quarter of 2021, the Company opened three new stores and closed one store, bringing total store count to 412 as of March 31, 2021.
Gross profit increased 10.1% in the first quarter of 2021 to $115.6 million from $105.0 million in the comparable period in 2020 and gross margin increased 150 basis points to 40.8% in the first quarter of 2021 from 39.3% in the first quarter of 2020. For the first quarter of 2021, the Company reported a positive $6.6 million impact from anti-dumping duty rate changes compared to 2020. Excluding this item as shown on the table that follows, Adjusted Gross Profit (a non-GAAP measure) increased by $4.1 million and Adjusted Gross Margin (a non-GAAP measure) of 38.5% decreased by 80 basis points. The decrease in adjusted gross margin was due primarily to the reinstatement of tariffs on certain flooring products imported from China (discussed in the “Section 301 Tariffs” section that follows) partially offset by pricing and promotion strategies, and, to a lesser extent, alternative country sourcing efforts.
SG&A expense increased 6.5% to $102.5 million, or 36.2% of sales, up 20 basis points in the first quarter of 2021 from the comparable period in 2020. SG&A in both quarters included certain costs related to legal matters. In April 2021, the Company settled two employment litigation matters and, as a result, accrued within SG&A a $7.7 million liability during the quarter ended March 31, 2021. Please refer to the Company’s Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31, 2021 for more details.
Excluding these items as shown in the table that follows, Adjusted SG&A (a non-GAAP measure) decreased 0.8% to $94.7 million. As a percent of sales, adjusted SG&A improved 230 basis points, to 33.4% of sales, compared to 35.7% for the same period in the prior year. The decrease in adjusted SG&A was primarily driven by lower advertising costs, reflecting the Company’s strategy to shift spend away from traditional channels into more efficient and effective digital channels, and disciplined expense management.
Operating income was $13.1 million for the first quarter of 2021 compared to $8.8 million for the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted Operating Income (a non-GAAP measure) was $14.4 million for the first quarter of 2021, a year-over-year increase of $4.8 million compared to adjusted operating income of $9.6 million for the first quarter of 2020. As a percent of net sales, adjusted operating margin for the first quarter of 2021 was 5.1%, up 150 basis points from the first quarter of 2020.
The Company had other income of $0.8 million for the three months ended March 31, 2021 compared to other expense of $0.9 million for the three months ended March 31, 2020. Both years included interest on borrowings on our Credit Agreement. The interest expense on borrowings in 2021 was offset by a favorable adjustment of $1.8 million, which has been excluded from Adjusted Earnings, for the reversal of interest expense associated with the $6.6 million anti-dumping duty rate change recognized during the first quarter.
For the three months ended March 31, 2021, the Company recognized income tax expense of $3.3 million, an effective tax rate of 23.4%, compared to income tax benefit of $4.4 million, an effective tax rate of (55.2)%, for the three months ended March 31, 2020. The benefit in 2020 was driven by a $4.7 million benefit related to the provisions of the CARES Act.
Net income for the first quarter of 2021 decreased $1.6 million to $10.6 million compared to $12.2 million for the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted Earnings (a non-GAAP measure) for the first quarter of 2021 were $10.2 million, a year-over-year decrease of $2.6 million compared to adjusted earnings of $12.8 million for the first quarter of 2020, reflecting the income tax benefit in 2020.
Earnings per diluted share was $0.36 for the first quarter of 2021 versus $0.42 in the year ago quarter, and first quarter 2021 Adjusted Earnings Per Diluted Share (a non-GAAP measure) was $0.34 compared to $0.44 for the first quarter of 2020, reflecting the income tax benefit in 2020.
Cash Flow & Liquidity
As of March 31, 2021, the Company had liquidity of $239.9 million, consisting of excess availability under its Credit Agreement of $31.0 million, and cash and cash equivalents of $208.9 million. This represents an increase in liquidity of $108.9 million from March 31, 2020. In addition, the Company’s debt balance as of March 31, 2021 was $101.0 million, unchanged since amending the Credit Agreement on April 17, 2020.
During the first quarter of 2021, the Company generated $44.5 million of cash flows from operating activities compared to $36.0 million for the first quarter of 2020, primarily reflecting increased working capital.
Credit Agreement Amendment
On April 30, 2021, the Company entered into a Second Amendment to the Credit Agreement (the “Second Amendment”) with the Lenders. The execution of the Second Amendment, among other things, converted the FILO Term Loan into the Revolving Credit Facility. The total size of the Credit Agreement remained at $200 million, and the Company still has an option to increase the Revolving Credit Facility to a maximum total amount of $250 million. The maturity date of the Credit Agreement was extended to April 30, 2026.
The Second Amendment decreased the margin for LIBOR Rate Loans (as defined in the Second Amendment) by 1.25% over the applicable LIBOR Rate (as defined in the Second Amendment) with respect to Revolving Loans (as defined in the Second Amendment), and reduced the LIBOR floor from 1.00% to 0.25%. The Second Amendment also decreased the unused commitment fee by 0.25% per annum.
Except as set forth in the Second Amendment, all other terms and conditions of the Credit Agreement remain in place.
“We were pleased to amend our credit agreement to reduce our interest expense and fees, extend our maturity date and increase our financial flexibility,” said Chief Financial Officer Nancy Walsh.
“We are monitoring the current macro-economic conditions and the impact of COVID-19, especially as vaccine administration continues, and are considering the timing of repayment of some or all of our debt balance, perhaps as soon as the end of the second quarter of 2021.”
Section 301 Tariffs
The Company’s financial statements have been impacted by Section 301 tariffs on certain products imported from China in recent years. A subset of these imports for certain click vinyl and other engineered products (the “Subset Products”) received an exemption that was made retroactive to the beginning of the Section 301 Tariffs for a period of time but were reinstated in August 2020. The tariffs flow through the income statement as product is sold. The Company has deployed strategies to mitigate tariffs and improve gross margin, primarily through adjusting its pricing and promotion strategies and alternative country sourcing. Please refer to the table on page 11 of this release for a detailed timeline and tariff levels for the key events related to Section 301 Tariffs.
The uncertainty surrounding the duration and extent of the impact of COVID-19 as it relates to consumer spending as well as global supply chain disruptions makes it uniquely challenging to accurately forecast future financial performance, and as such, the Company is not providing financial guidance.
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About LL Flooring
LL Flooring is one of North America’s leading specialty retailers of hard-surface flooring with 410 stores as of December 31, 2020. The Company seeks to offer the best customer experience online and in stores, with more than 400 varieties of hard-surface floors featuring a range of quality styles and on-trend designs. LL’s online tools also help empower customers to find the right solution for the space they’ve envisioned. LL Flooring’s extensive selection includes vinyl plank, solid and engineered hardwood, laminate, bamboo, porcelain tile, and cork, with a wide range of flooring enhancements and accessories to complement. Our stores are staffed with flooring experts who provide advice, pro partnership services and installation options for all of LL Flooring’s products, the majority of which is in stock and ready for delivery.
Source: Lumber Liquidators Holdings, Inc.