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L Brands, Inc. (LB - Analyst Report) formerly known as Limited Brands, posted fourth-quarter fiscal 2013 earnings of $1.65 per share that came ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.61 but fell 6% from the prior-year quarter earnings of $1.76.

This specialty retailer of women’s intimate and other apparel, beauty and personal care products posted net sales of $3,818.2 million, down 1% from $3,855.6 million reported in the prior-year quarter, and also fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3,855 million.

L Brands, which operated 2,923 stores as of Feb 1, 2014, posted comparable-store sales growth of 1% during the quarter compared with 5% in the prior-year quarter.

Sales at Victoria’s Secret Stores & Victoria’s Secret Beauty increased 1% to $1,724.2 million, whereas comps were up 3%. Victoria's Secret Direct sales fell 6% to $504.5 million. Total Victoria’s Secret sales edged down 1% to $2,228.7 million. Bath & Body Works & The White Barn Candle Co.’s total sales decreased 4% to $1,205.4 million, with a 1% decline in comps. Comps at La Senza fell 3%, while sales plummeted 9% to $92.8 million.

Gross profit for the quarter tumbled 6% to $1,642.3 million, whereas gross margin contracted 220 basis points to 43%. Operating income fell 5% to $863.5 million, whereas operating margin shriveled 90 basis points to 22.6%.

Management now forecasts earnings in the range of 44 cents to 49 cents a share for the first quarter and between $3.00 and $3.20 per share for fiscal 2014.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the first quarter and fiscal 2014 are 51 cents and $3.33 per share, respectively, and could witness a downward revision in the coming days.

L Brands projects total comparable-store sales ranging from flat to the low-single-digits for February.

Currently, L Brands holds a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Some better ranked stocks in the retail sector are Hanesbrands Inc. (HBI - Analyst Report) and Michael Kors Holdings Limited (KORS - Analyst Report) both carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and Columbia Sportswear Company (COLM - Snapshot Report) sporting a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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