Charming Shoppes Chops Forecast

The retailer says it's been hurt by weak store traffic and increased markdowns.
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Charming Shoppes

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cut its second-quarter and full-year earnings projections, citing lower store traffic and increased markdowns on spring items.

The women's clothing seller also said the president of its Lane Bryant brand has departed. Shares were down 24 cents, or 2.1%, to $11.39 in recent trading.

The Bensalem, Pa.-based company said it now expects earnings of 18 cents to 20 cents a share for the second quarter, down from its earlier projection of 25 cents to 27 cents. Charming Shoppes predicts sales of $785 million to $795 million, compared with a prior view of $795 million to $805 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast earnings of 26 cents a share and sales of $799.4 million.

The company said its projection assumes a flat to low-single-digit percentage decline in consolidated same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, at its retail stores.

Charming Shoppes, which operates such brands as Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes and Lane Bryant Outlet, attributed the lowered guidance to weaker traffic at each of its brands and an increase in markdowns on spring merchandise.

"As we enter the fall selling season, we are confident that we have sufficiently improved our merchandise assortments in each of our retail brands to be better positioned to achieve our sales and gross margin plans for the second half of this year," said Dorrit Bern, chairman, CEO and president, in a statement.

For the year ending Feb. 2, 2008, Charming Shoppes now anticipates earnings of 80 cents to 82 cents a share, with sales of $3.15 billion to $3.20 billion. The company's prior guidance called for a profit of 86 cents to 90 cents a share and sales of $3.25 billion to $3.30 billion.

Wall Street is looking for full-year earnings of 87 cents a share and a top line of $3.23 billion.

As for the management change, Charming Shoppes said that Lorna Nagler, president of the Lane Bryant brand, has been replaced by LuAnn Via.

Via had been president of the Catherines brand. Bern will serve as president of that brand while the company searches for a permanent executive.