Guidance Soft at New York & Co.

First-quarter earnings fall from a year ago.
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New York & Co.'s

(NWY)

first-quarter earnings slid 72% from a year ago, weighed down by a sales meltdown in March. The women's clothes retailer also guided future earnings below estimates.

New York & Co., which warned on the first quarter last month, earned $6.1 million, or 10 cents a share, in the February-to-April period, down from $21.5 million, or 38 cents a share, a year ago. Sales fell 1.1% from a year ago to $267.1 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 11 cents a share and sales of $267.4 million.

"Our first-quarter results were well below our original expectations," the company said. "While April sales rebounded from the double-digit comparable sales declines we experienced during February and March, we were unable to make up the sales and margin shortfalls created during the first nine weeks of the quarter.

In the second quarter, New York & Co. expects to earn 8 cents to 12 cents a share on sales of $270 million to $275 million. Analysts were predicting earnings of 19 cents a share on sales of $280.6 million. For the year, the company sees earnings of 70 cents to 82 cents a share on sales of $1.2 billion to $1.22 billion. Analysts were predicting earnings of 92 cents a share on sales of $1.23 billion.

"As we look ahead, we believe our assortments are better balanced with a mix of new fashion and core basics that we believe will resonate better with our customers," the company said. "That being said, we expect comparable-store sales for the second quarter to be low-single digit negative against the prior year. During the latter part of the year, we expect to benefit from the changes in our design and merchandising teams, which we feel will improve our future offerings."

The stock closed at $15.35 Wednesday, down 28% for the year and 18.7 times the high end of the full-year guidance.