Ann Taylor (ANN) turned a loss into a profit in its fourth quarter, but warned Tuesday that its first quarter financials would come in below expectations.
The women's fashion retailer earned $16.2 million, or 35 cents a share, on $352.2 million in revenue in its fourth quarter ended Feb. 1. In the year-ago quarter, Ann Taylor lost $332,000, or 1 cent a share, on $371.4 million in sales.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call were expecting Ann Taylor to earn 35 cents a share on $357.03 million in revenue.
For its fiscal year, the New York-based company earned $80.2 million, or $1.72 a share, on $1.38 billion in sales. That was up from fiscal 2001, when Ann Taylor earned $29.1 million, or 67 cents a share, on sales of $1.3 billion.
The company's fourth-quarter turnaround was driven by cost-cutting. The company's gross profit margin --the difference between what a company charges for its goods and what it pays for them -- increased to 52% of revenue from 45.3 percent of sales in the year-ago quarter.
Ann Taylor also cut its overall sales, general and administrative expenses from $162.8 million in the year-ago quarter to $156.1 million. Such costs, however, increased as a percentage of sales from 43.8% to 44.3%.
Blaming "severe weather" that depressed sales, Ann Taylor lowered its first-quarter guidance. The fashion chain now expects to earn between 39 to 41 cents a share in the first quarter; previously, the company had forecast that it would earn between 45 to 47 cents a share. Wall Street analysts were expecting Ann Taylor to post earnings of 45 cents in the first quarter, according to Thomson Financial/First Call.
Shares closed off, down 31 cents, or 1.6%, to $18.75 in regular trading.