Tractor Supply provides a Q1 preview

Tractor Supply Company provided a business update on its first fiscal quarter, which pointed to a 6.6% net sales increase but a decline in comparable store sales.

Tractor Supply CEO Greg Sandfort said the upcoming spring selling season promises to be a bigger boon for seasonal merchandise sales.

"Weather can influence the demand for certain products, and while we had a challenging quarter with respect to sales and margin, our business is more accurately assessed by the halves, not the quarters," he said. "We believe seasonal merchandise sales will improve as we move further into the spring selling season."

Net sales for the first quarter ended April 1 were up 6.6% to $1.56 billion from $1.47 billion in the first quarter of 2016.

However, comparable store sales decreased 2.2% versus an increase of 4.9% in the prior year's first quarter. This was driven by decreases in comparable transaction count and average ticket of 1.4% and 0.9%, respectively, as well as lower sales of seasonal merchandise and the impact of deflation. The Northeast was particularly challenged with its weather conditions.

The company expects net income per diluted share for the first quarter to range from $0.45 to $0.46.

"We have a solid core business that is focused on a dedicated lifestyle customer who depends upon us for the products they need," added Sandfort. "Despite the challenging start to the fiscal year, we believe there is significant business ahead of us. We are excited about our upcoming merchandise initiatives and the continued execution of our cross-channel, customer centric growth strategy, which includes the recent expansion of Neighbor's Club and Buy Online Pick Up In Store."

The full first quarter results will be released after market close on Wednesday, April 26.

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