Abercrombie 3Q adjusted profit beats, cuts outlook

AP News
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Posted: Dec 03, 2014 12:58 PM

NEW ALBANY, Ohio (AP) — Abercrombie & Fitch, like many teenagers it caters to, is struggling to find its niche.

A major overhaul of its business has yet to bear fruit, as sales kept falling in the company's third quarter and it lowered its full-year earnings forecast Wednesday.

Despite the challenges, many investors were pleased with the earnings beat and sent shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. up nearly 4.8 percent to $29.18.

The teen retailer was once a powerhouse with its preppy, logo-heavy look. But tastes change and teenagers began to favor standing out over fitting in. They also began going to the mall less and when they did shop, opted instead for the affordable fast-fashion looks that competitors like H&M offer.

Abercrombie's sales suffered, and it has started to try to reshape itself. It reduced the use of logos in its clothes, increased its emphasis on online shopping and shifted its management to lead the company in a new direction.

The New Albany, Ohio-based company said that its total revenue fell to $911.5 million from $1.03 billion for the quarter that ended Nov. 1. That fell short of the $916.7 million that analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected. And sales at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer's health as it excludes recently opened and closed stores, fell 10 percent.

Abercrombie earned $18.2 million, or 25 cents per share, for the quarter versus a loss of $15.6 million, or 20 cents per share, a year ago. Stripping out certain charges, earnings were 42 cents per share. That beat analyst estimates by a penny.

The company — whose brands include Abercrombie, Hollister Co. and Gilly Hicks — now anticipates earning between $1.50 and $1.65 per share for the year. That's down from its prior forecast of $2.15 to $2.35 per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet were anticipating full-year earnings of $1.83 per share.

The company said it saw a strong start to the holiday season, but executives said they remained cautious given a tough environment for teen retailers overall.

Stifel analyst Richard Jaffe said in a research note that it is taking the retailer longer than expected to win back customers, despite its improved fashion.

He said the company's strategy to move away from its logo-based apparel is a good one for the long run but is holding back sales in the short term. He also noted that the company is facing a tough retail environment in Europe, where warm weather and a still difficult economy are hurting sales.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. ANF stock research report from Zacks.

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Keywords:Abercrombie & Fitch,Earnings Report