Women's career clothing retailer The AnnTaylor Stores Corporation says it will have quarterly pre-tax costs of $17 million as it writes down assets, discontinues its cosmetics business and cancels some merchandise orders to control inventory.

The company is writing down assets from its website, which failed to achieve the sales volume that had been expected before its introduction in November 2000, and says it will stop selling cosmetics to focus on clothing.

Chief operating officer Barry Erdos explained that excluding the expenses, which equal 33 cents a share, earnings for the fourth quarter ending 2 February will be 25 cents to 30 cents, in line with the company's estimates.

The expenses also include severance costs associated with job cuts at stores and headquarters in the last two months, and cancelled fabric orders to bring inventory into line with current sales levels.