just-styles roundup of holiday apparel and footwear industry results

just-style's roundup of holiday apparel and footwear industry results

With the holiday season done and dusted, US apparel and footwear retailers are now counting the cost. In the most recent results, New York & Co has narrowed its fourth-quarter outlook despite posting an increase in comparable store sales, while Express has lifted its guidance. Shoe Carnival, Genesco and American Eagle Outfitters all booked increases. However, Bon-Ton Stores and Ascena Retail Group posted declines. 

Bon-Ton Stores 

US department store retailer The Bon-Ton Stores saw its comparable store sales fall 1.6% during the nine weeks to 2 January. Total sales for November and December combined were down 1.5% to $784.4m from $796.4m in the same period of the prior year. 

Given the higher level of promotional activity, particularly in seasonal goods, the company said it expects its full-year adjusted EBITDA to be at the lower end of its $110-120m target, exclusive of implementation costs associated with planned expense reductions in fiscal 2016. 

Express Inc 

US apparel chain Express Inc has raised its fourth-quarter and full year outlook, after a "solid" performance over the holiday season as customers responded enthusiastically to its product assortment. The company now expects fourth-quarter net income to reach $53-55m, and comparable store sales to increase 3%. This compares to its earlier guidance of $50-54m and low single digit growth respectively. Full-year net income is forecast to be between $113m and $115m, up from its previous target of $110-114m. 

Stifel analyst Richard Jaffe noted: "We believe Express's momentum is sustainable, driven by an improved merchandise assortment fuelled by chasing into strong selling merchandise, real estate rationalisation, outlet and e-commerce growth, and more compelling marketing. 

"Additionally, we believe the company's solid performance, January month to date, suggests that consumers are responding favourably to its new spring floorset, which gives us visibility for continued strength into spring and 1Q. 

Ascena Retail Group

US fashion retailer Ascena Retail Group saw comparable sales fall 4% during the period from 21 November 2015 to 3 January 2016, hurt by soft traffic, unseasonably warm conditions and intense competition. Justice fared the worst with a 15% decline, Dressbarn fell 3%, Catherines was down 2%, and Ann brands dropped 1%. Meanwhile, Lane Bryant increased 6% and Maurices climbed 1%.  

The company reaffirmed its full-year earnings per share guidance of $0.75-0.80, but expects its second-quarter EPS to be between breakeven and a loss of $0.03, below its original forecast of $0.02.

New York & Co 

US apparel retailer New York & Co has narrowed its fourth-quarter outlook, despite booking a 1.9% comparable store sales increase for the ten weeks to 9 January. It experienced softer demand for cold weather products due to unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast, Midwest and South.  

The company now expects fourth-quarter adjusted operating results, excluding up to $1m of non-operating charges comprised of severance and relocation related costs associated with leadership changes in its stores organisation, to be around $1-1.5m of operating income. This compares to its earlier guidance of $1-3m. 

Shoe Carnival 

US footwear retailer Shoe Carnival has reaffirmed its full-year and fourth quarter guidance after booking a 2.9% increase in comparable store sales for the first two months of the fourth quarter. The company continues to expect fiscal 2015 net sales to range from $980-987m, with a comparable store sales rise of 3.0%. Earnings per share are forecast to be between $1.38 and $1.43, representing year-on-year growth of 9-13%. 

Stage Stores 

US department store retailer Stage Stores saw comparable store sales decline 2.5% for the ten weeks to 9 January. CEO and president Michael Glazer said the performance was "in line with our expectations" despite continued pressure on stores impacted by the oil and gas industry, the weak peso and one of the warmest holiday seasons on record. The company increased promotions and markdowns in response to soft traffic and a highly competitive environment. 

Genesco 

US apparel and footwear chain Genesco has cut its fiscal 2016 earnings target, despite posting a single digit increase in comparable store sales over the holiday period. Comparable store sales comparable sales, including both stores and direct sales, grew 5%, helped by a 7% increase at its Journeys Group business. Same store sales were up 3% and sales for the company's e-commerce and catalogue direct sales businesses jumped 20% year-on-year. 

The company now expects adjusted earnings per share to range from $4.30-4.40, down from its earlier guidance of $4.50-4.60, and reflects measures planned to complete the Lids Sports Group's year-long inventory reduction programme in the fourth quarter and current challenges in the Schuh Group's business. 

American Eagle Outfitters 

US apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters enjoyed what it described as a "solid" holiday season. Fourth quarter comparable sales to date increased 4%, with the online business "particularly strong". The company continues to expect fourth quarter earnings per share to range from $0.40-0.42. 

Urban Outfitters 

US lifestyle retailer Urban Outfitters posted a mixed holiday sales performance, with strong direct-to-consumer growth offset by weaker store sales. For the two months to 31 December, net sales were flat over the same period a year ago. Comparable retail sales, which include the group's comparable direct-to-consumer channel, fell 2%. The company's namesake brand and Anthropologie Group each posted a 2% decline, while Free People rose 2%. Wholesale sales jumped 40%, partially due to delayed shipments from the third quarter being carried over into the fourth quarter.