Charming Shoppes Loses Allure

Shares fall after the retailer's third-quarter sales disappoint.
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Shares of

Charming Shoppes

(CHRS) - Get Report

slid Wednesday after the specialty-apparel retailer's third-quarter sales came in short of Wall Street's expectation.

The Bensalem, Pa.-based company posted income of $19.4 million, or 15 cents a share, up from $10.8 million, or 9 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 13 cents a share.

Sales increased 5% to $695.3 million, while same-store sales rose a modest 1%. Analysts, on average, expected sales of $711.7 million.

The retailer's shares recently were down 61 cents, or 4%, to $14.47.

Charming Shoppes said it had entered the third quarter with lower levels of seasonal inventory, resulting in an improved merchandise margin compared to the year-ago period. The company said the quarter also benefited from the addition of the company's outlet stores, contribution from credit operations, and cost controls.

"Entering the quarter with clean inventories resulted in improvements in our merchandise margin, which contributed to our better-than-planned earnings results," Dorrit J. Bern, chairman, chief executive and president said in a statement. "The quarter also benefited from the inclusion of our first fully-operational quarter for our outlet business, contribution from our credit operations, and strong expense management throughout the company."

The company operates stores under the names Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Fashion Bug Plus and Catherines Plus Sizes.

Charming Shoppes backed its projection for fourth-quarter earnings of 21 cents to 22 cents a share. The company expects revenue of $880 million to $890 million, and flat same-store sales.

The company also boosted its earnings guidance for the full fiscal year to 84 cents to 85 cents a share from an earlier forecast of 81 cents to 83 cents a share. Analysts, on average, predict a profit of 83 cents a share.