• Q4 net profit down to US$15.7m
  • Net sales fall 8.2%

US apparel retailer The Children's Place Retail Stores has booked a drop in fourth-quarter earnings and given a cautious outlook for its full-year due to poor weather and increased promotional activity.

Net income in the three months ended 1 February amounted to US$15.7m, compared to $19.1m a year earlier. The company said an "intensely promotional environment and a series of storms" affected results in the quarter.

Net sales declined 8.2% to $467.5m. Results included a negative impact of around $3.9m from currency exchange rate fluctuations. Comparable sales declined 4.3%.

"The Children's Place delivered fiscal 2013 earnings near the top end of our guidance range despite an intensely promotional environment and a series of storms brought on by the polar vortex in the fourth quarter," said CEO Jane Elfers. "2013 was a challenging year but we demonstrated our ability to deliver solid financial results through a combination of superior value, tight expense discipline, strong merchandise offerings that resonated with our customers and well-controlled inventories."

For the full year, the company said it was taking a cautious stance on its outlook due to severe weather conditions experienced in February and early March, a heightened promotional environment, and a significant negative impact from foreign exchange in 2014.

It is forecasting adjusted EPS of between $2.85 and $3.05. This compares to $3.26 in fiscal 2013, and assumes comparable retail sales for the year will be in the range of flat to negative 1%.

FBR & Co analyst Susan Anderson believes the company reported "solid" EPS, in line with its estimates and above consensus estimates.

She added: "While January weather weighed on comps and GM, the environment was managed well with good expense control. Guidance for 1Q and 2014 was lighter than anticipated, which we believe was primarily driven by adverse weather in February and March-to-date and foreign exchange headwinds, but the fundamental margin-improvement story is intact, with initiatives (store rationalization, supply chain restructuring, international, systems implementation) on track."