Sunday, August 16, 2009

Abercrombie Has Loss on Sales Slump

Abercrombie & Fitch Co., the U.S. teen clothing retailer, reported a second-quarter loss on slumping sales and costs to close Ruehl stores. The shares rose on investor optimism results will improve in the second half.

The net loss was $26.7 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with a profit of $77.8 million, or 87 cents, a year earlier, the New Albany, Ohio-based company said today in a statement. Revenue dropped 23 percent to $648.5 million, in line with preliminary figures released last week.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Jeffries started to lower prices in the second quarter to compete with other retailers such as Aeropostale Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc., which have used discounts to lure consumers on tight budgets. Pricing changes, inventory management and improved fashion should help results later this year and in 2010, said Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. in New York.

The second quarter showed "modest improvement," Jaffe said in a research note today. Excluding some items, earnings were 4 cents a share, beating his estimate for a loss of 3 cents.

Marketing, general and administrative expenses declined 19 percent in the quarter to $88.7 million.

Sales at stores open at least a year dropped 30 percent in the three months ended Aug. 1, the company said last week.

The retailer said on June 17 it would close its 29 unprofitable Ruehl stores that carry clothing for 22- to 25-year olds after sales stagnated in the U.S. recession.

Abercrombie rose $1.29, or 3.9 percent, to $34.25 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 48 percent this year.

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