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Tween Brands Trampled

Shares plunge after the retailer posts a weak quarter and cuts guidance.
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Shares of

Tween Brands

(TWB)

plunged 23% early Wednesday after the clothing chain posted lower-than-expected second-quarter results and cut its outlook for the year.

The company, which caters to "tweens" ages 7 to 14, said its income for the second quarter dropped to $2.1 million, or 7 cents a share, from $5.9 million, or 18 cents a share, a year earlier.

Sales rose to $213.7 million from $185.8 million last year, but same-store sales fell 2%. Same-store sales represent sales at stores open at least a year.

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Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 15 cents a share and sales of $212 million.

"Our sales for the quarter failed to meet our expectations in large part because we underestimated the impact of so many schools in our markets moving their back-to-school start dates later, as well as Texas and Florida shifting their state sales tax holidays from July to August," said Tween Brands Chairman and CEO Mike Rayden. "These shifts aggravated what had been a decline in retail traffic and lower store transactions throughout the quarter."

For the third quarter, Tween forecast earnings of 40 cents to 45 cents a share, below analysts' target of 68 cents. The company said the projection reflects a shift in its calendar planning and earlier-in-the-season markdowns at its Limited Too chain to get rid of inventory.

For the full year, Tween forecast earnings of $1.80 to $1.95 a share, below its prior guidance of $2.10 to $2.25. Wall Street anticipated full-year earnings of $2.23 a share.

"While we are projecting positive comparable store sales for the third quarter at both of our brands," Rayden said, "we remain cautious regarding the current trend in retail traffic and the continuing uncertainties in the U.S. economy."

Shares were trading down $8.51 to $30.08, falling past its 52-week low of $31.05 from last September. The stock hit a 52-week high of $49 on June 27.