Limited BrandsShares of Limited Brands ( LTD) fell in late trades after the fashion apparel retailer gave a below-consensus outlook for the current quarter. The Columbus, Ohio-based company, whose brands include Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, sees earnings of 35 to 40 cents a share for its fiscal first quarter ending in April. That's below the current average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a profit of 44 cents a share in the three-month period. For fiscal 2012, Limited forecast earnings of $2.60 to $2.80 a share vs. the consensus view for a profit of $2.91 a share. The disappointing outlook comes despite the company saying it now sees same-store sales for February rising in the mid to high single digit range on a percentage basis, up from a prior forecast for an increase in the low single digits.
The stock was last quoted at $44.12, down 3%, on volume of more than 260,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Based on Wednesday's regular session close at $45.48, the shares are up nearly 14% so far in 2012, and more than 40% in the past year, hitting a 52-week high of $46.70 on Feb. 16. For its fourth quarter ended in January, Limited reported an adjusted profit oif $1.50 a share, ahead of Wall Street's view for earnings of $1.46 a share. The company also said after the bell that it had completed a $250 million stock buyback program, and that its board has approved an additional $500 million repurchase authorization. The sell side had some reservations about Limited shares ahead of the report with 13 of the 24 analysts covering the stock at either hold (12) or underperform (1), and the stock was bumping up against the median 12-month price target of $46. In addition, the shares had made strong moves above both the 50-day and 200-day moving averages of $42.35 and $40.44, respectively. The forward price-to-earnings multiple stands at 15.6X at current levels vs. 12.8X for a competitor like Gap ( GPS), which reports its quarterly results on Thursday, and 13.1 for the S&P 500.