Two retailers posted lower fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday, but their shares were moving in opposite directions following differing guidance.
Quarterly profit at
Jones Apparel Group
beat analysts' expectations by a penny, even though it was down from the year-ago period's results, and that sent its shares down in morning trading.
In the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company earned $41.8 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with the previous year's $51.6 million, or 39 cents a share. Revenue was $980.1 million vs. $964.5 million in the same quarter a year earlier. In addition, the company said its retail segment had a 3.7% increase in comparable-store sales.
Operating profit margin for the quarter was 8.1%, compared with 10.0% in the prior year. Jones New York cited a $33 million negative impact from exiting the Lauren by Ralph Lauren business, which was previously licensed from
Polo Ralph Lauren
. That hurt operating profit margin by 3 percentage points.
"With several economic indicators trending in a positive direction, generally improved retailer performances, and a consumer shift toward more structured and career-oriented dressing, we enter 2004 optimistic about our future," the New York-based company said in a statement.
In the first quarter, the company sees sales down mid-single digits and a profit of 55 cents to 60 cents a share. In the second quarter, sales are seen up in the mid single digits, with earnings per share of 55 cents to 60 cents.
Analysts are calling for 88 cents a share in the first quarter and 52 cents a share in the second quarter, on average.
In all of 2004, Jones New York sees a profit of $2.50 to $2.75 a share on sales of $4.415 billion to $4.435 billion. Wall Street's consensus is $2.73 a share.
Shares of Jones Apparel Group were lately down 98 cents, or 2.6%, at $36.17.
Meanwhile, shares of
were moving higher in morning trading after the company said it expects full-year 2004 earnings to increase as much as 54% but missed analysts' projections on quarterly profit by 2 cents, excluding items.
In the quarter ended Jan. 31, the company earned $17.7 million, or 51 cents a share, compared with $25.1 million, or 72 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter. The current quarter's results included a penny a share loss from discontinued operations.
Excluding items, the company earned 52 cents a share, which missed analysts' forecast for 54 cents a share.
Comparable-store sales fell 6%, but the company said it had a 3% increase in transactions per store, which reversed a trend in declining transactions over the last three years.
Full-year 2004 profit is seen at 94 cents to $1 a share, including a loss on discontinued operations of 17 cents a share, and compared with 65 cents a share in 2003. Too said it based its earnings estimates on a comparable-store sales range of flat to a low, single-digit positive percentage increase.
Analysts are expecting $1 a share in the full year.
Shares of Too were lately up 86 cents, or 5%, at $18.