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Limited Brands' Comps Rise, Ups Guidance

GPS FRED

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L Brands, Inc. posted comparable-store sales of 3% for the four-week period ended Aug 3, 2013 that came better than analysts’ expectations. This specialty retailer of women’s intimate and other apparel, beauty and personal care products showcased a 4.4% rise in net sales of $678.4 million from $649.8 million in the prior-year period.

Buoyed by stronger-than-expected comps results, management now anticipates second-quarter fiscal 2013 earnings to come in at 60 cents a share, up from a range of 50 cents to 55 cents forecasted earlier. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter dovetails with the company’s upgraded guidance.

Besides Limited Brands, other retail chains that posted comparable-store sales data for the month of July include clothing chain, The Gap, Inc. (GPS - Analyst Report) that registered comps growth of 1%, off-price retailer of apparels, footwear and accessories Stein Mart Inc. delivered comparable-store sales growth of 3.7%, while discount store operator Fred's, Inc. (FRED - Analyst Report) registered a 2.5% rise in comps.

July revealed mixed comparable-store sales results for retailers, who tried every means to lure budget-conscious customers with discounts being their major weapon. Going forward, analysts believe that the back to school season, the important season before the holidays, may be a tough one for retailers. A recent Conference Board data suggested that Consumer Confidence Index fell to 80.3 in Jul 2013 from 82.1 in Jun 2013.

Coming to Limited Brands, comparable-store sales for July rose 2% at Victoria’s Secret Stores & Victoria’s Secret Beauty, 6% at Bath & Body Works & The White Barn Candle Co. and 9% at La Senza. Sales dipped 11% at Victoria’s Secret Direct. Management now projects total comparable-store sales to rise in the low single-digits for the month of August.

For the twenty-six week period ended Aug 3, 2013, comparable-store sales increased 2%, whereas net sales rose 5% to $4,784 million from $4,553 million in the year-ago period. Comps for the second quarter grew 2%, while net sales climbed 5% to $2,516 million from $2,399 million in the prior-year quarter.

Limited Brands, which holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and operates 2,892 stores, also declared a quarterly dividend of 30 cents a share to be paid on Sep 6, 2013, to stakeholders of record as of Aug 23, 2013.

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