After her business was hit by the pandemic, retailer Ulta Beauty Inc. appears to have used some accountable cosmetics to shine its bottom line.
The operating profit of the once-fast-growing chain, which temporarily closed stores during the health crisis, fell to $ 13 million for the nine months through October, a fraction of the $ 613 million earned during the same period in 2019. Two articles related to the coronavirus influenced the calculations: an impairment charge of $ 40 million for the value of certain stores that reduced operating income and $ 51 million in tax credits federal governments who increased it.
Ulta also reported a much healthier “adjusted operating income” of $ 98 million. This tally, designed to eliminate one-time items, added the depreciation cost of $ 40 million, which increased the adjusted count, but did not remove the $ 51 million in federal assistance. If that aid had been removed, adjusted operating income would have been half of what the company reported.
About a year after the start of the pandemic, regulators are stepping up their scrutiny of potentially misleading coronavirus disclosures by companies. A senior Securities and Exchange Commission official warned in December that companies should be consistent in making positive and negative adjustments when they show the impact of the pandemic.
A spokesperson for Ultra Beauty denied the selection data to flatter the adjusted metric. She said the cost of the depreciation was a legitimate one-time charge caused by the impact of Covid-19 on some stores, and not a direct cost of the pandemic like cleaning supplies.