Vera Bradley Tumbles on Poor Outlook

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Shares of Vera Bradley ( VRA) fell sharply Thursday after the maker of handbags and other fashion accessories gave a weak outlook for the current quarter.

After Wednesday's closing bell, the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based company, which also has retail operations, forecast earnings of 27 to 29 cents a share on revenue of $115 million to $117 million for its fiscal first quarter ending in April.

That profit view is below the current average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for earnings of 30 cents a share on revenue of $116.7 million in the three-month period.

The stock was last quoted at $33.99, down 8.5%, on volume of 3.1 million, nearly five times the issue's trailing three-month daily average churn of roughly 630,000. In the past year, the shares are down 3.5%, ranging from a high of $52.36 on May 19 to a low of $24.83 on Aug. 19.

"These softer sales are being driven by a lack of a 'breakout' pattern in the overall portfolio despite an in line response to the new spring patterns," said Jefferies, which was looking for earnings of 32 cents a share in the first quarter, in a research note on Thursday. "On a brighter note, management was very upbeat around the new summer patterns which have received positive reviews in consumer testing and are set to hit stores on 3/22."

Prior to Thursday's decline, Vera Bradley shares were trading at a forward price-to-earnings ration of 16.8X vs. an average multiple of 13.2X for clothing and accessories companies. For comparison, both The Jones Group ( JNY) and Perry Ellis ( PERY) have lower forward P/Es of 9.58 and 8.39, respectively.

Nine of the 12 analysts who cover the stock rate it at buy; three analysts give the stock a hold rating.

TheStreet Ratings gives Vera Bradley a C- grade and hold rating. The stock has risen 4.74% year to date.

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-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian in New York.

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