Back to top

Analyst Blog

Battered by increased promotional and markdown activity along with higher operating expenses, Ascena Retail Group Inc.’s (ASNA - Snapshot Report) adjusted earnings of 26 cents per share for third-quarter fiscal2013 declined 23.5% from the comparable year-ago quarter number of 34 cents. Moreover, quarterly earnings came below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 31 cents per share.

On a reported basis, including the effect of one-time items and discontinued operations, the company’s earnings were 19 cents per share versus 31 cents in the year-ago same quarter.

Quarter in Detail

Benefiting from the acquisitions of Lane Bryant and Catherines businesses, Ascena’s net sales for the quarter grew approximately 46% year over year to $1,142.2 million. However, the figure fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,173.0 million.

Comparable store sales (comps) dropped 1%, as positive comps at the company’s e-Commerce business (up 37%) was more than offset by weakened comps at its stores (down 4%). Brand-wise, comps at Justice, Lane Bryant, maurices and dressbarn declined by 4%, 6%, 3% and 7%, respectively, partially offset by an 8% growth registered across its Catherines brand.

Gross profit increased 43.0% to $657.8 million from $459.9 million in the prior-year period. However, gross profit margin contracted 110 basis points (bps) to 57.6% from the year-ago level. The decline in gross margin was mainly due to increased markdowns and promotional activity, especially at dressbarn.

During the quarter, a 60.4% increase in buying, distribution and occupancy expenses (BD&O) and 51.6% rise in selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) led to a year-over-year decline of 22.9% in operating income of $65.8 million. Consequently, operating margin plummeted 510 bps to 5.8%. On an adjusted basis, Ascena’s operating income came at $72.7 million or 6.4% of sales.

Balance Sheet

Ascena ended the third quarter of fiscal 2013 with cash and short-term investments of $206.1 million compared with $168.9 million at the end of the fiscal 2012. Total debt at quarter-end was $155.6 million compared with $326.6 million at the end of fiscal 2012.

During the quarter, Ascena increased its revolving credit facility to $500 million of which it used $279.3 million to repay its outstanding principal balance of term loan.

Fiscal 2013 Outlook Revised

Disappointing quarterly performance compelled management to lower its earnings guidance for fiscal 2013 to $1.10–$1.15 per share from $1.20–$1.30 forecasted earlier. The company’s earnings guidance for fiscal 2013 excludes the one-time, financing and acquisition related charges toward integration, restructuring and purchase accounting of the Charming Shoppes Inc. acquisition.

Further, Ascena expects comps for the remaining period of fourth-quarter fiscal 2013 to be in the range of flat to up low-single-digits. Moreover, it projects to open net 50–60 new stores during the spring season.

Other Stocks to Consider

Currently, Ascena carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Better performing stocks among apparel/shoe retailers include American Apparel, Inc.(APP - Snapshot Report), Gap Inc.(GPS - Analyst Report) and Stein Mart Inc. , all of which have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Please login to Zacks.com or register to post a comment.

New to Zacks?

Start Here

Zacks Investment Research

Close

Are you a new Zacks Member or a visitor to Zacks.com?

Top Zacks Features

My Portfolio Tracker

Is it Time to Sell?

One of the most important steps you can take today is to set up your portfolio tracker on Zacks.com. Once you do, you'll be notified of major events affecting your stocks and/or funds with daily email alerts.

More Zacks Resources

Zacks Rank Home - Evaluate your stocks and use the Zacks Rank to eliminate the losers and keep the winners.

Mutual Fund Rank Home - Evaluate your funds with the Mutual Fund Rank for both your personal and retirement funds.

Stock/Mutual Fund Screening - Find better stocks and mutual funds. The ones most likely to beat the market and provide a positive return.

My Portfolio - Track your Portfolio and find out where your stocks/mutual funds stack up with the Zacks Rank.

Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers for Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers

Company Symbol Price %Chg
FELCOR LODG… FCH 10.47 +3.46%
OLD DOMINIO… ODFL 63.48 +1.18%
VASCO DATA… VDSI 13.57 +0.67%
AMEDISYS IN… AMED 20.18 +0.10%
LENOVO GROU… LNVGY 27.07 +0.04%