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Here's How American Eagle (AEO) Looks Ahead of Q4 Earnings

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American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. AEO is slated to release fourth-quarter fiscal 2019 results on Mar 4. This casual apparel and accessories provider’s earnings came in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the last reported quarter. Further, the company delivered a positive earnings surprise of 9.6%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth-quarter earnings has been unchanged over the past 30 days at 36 cents per share. This suggests a decline of 16.3% from the year-ago period’s reported figure. Nonetheless, the consensus mark for revenues is pegged at $1,270 million, indicating a rise of 2.1% from the figure reported in the year-ago quarter.

Key Factors to Note

American Eagle has been witnessing a solid comparable sales (comps) trend, thanks to robust efforts driving store and digital sales. Backed by its investments in omnichannel capabilities, store and digital channels have been witnessing strong growth over several quarters.  Moreover, the company’s efforts to improve product assortments and inventory management have been encouraging.

Markedly, the company recently reported impressive holiday sales, which can be attributed to strong momentum in American Eagle’s (AE) brand’s signature jeans range and the Aerie brand. Notably, the company’s Aerie brand has been a key growth driver for a while now, which witnessed comps growth of 20% in the fiscal third quarter. This marked the 20th straight quarter of double-digit comps growth for the brand, reflecting significant momentum in all areas of the business. Aerie remains focused on increasing market share and rapidly expanding the customer base. After the success of its core intimates offerings, the brand has been gaining share in the innovative apparel market. Hence, this brand is likely to have been a driver in the quarter under review too.

However, the company has been battling persistent challenges in the AE apparel business. We note that American Eagle witnessed weaker demand in some AE apparel categories in the fiscal third quarter, which resulted in increased markdowns. This downturn continued in the fiscal fourth quarter as well. Further, in its last earnings call, management guided for increased promotional activities in the fourth quarter, which is likely to have dented the gross margin. Management expects earnings per share of 34-36 cents for the fourth quarter.

What the Zacks Model Unveils

Our proven model doesn’t conclusively predict an earnings beat for American Eagle this time around. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the odds of an earnings beat. But that’s not the case here. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Although American Eagle carries a Zacks Rank #3, its Earnings ESP of -0.75% makes surprise prediction difficult.

Stocks With Favorable Combinations

Here are some companies you may want to consider, as our model shows that these have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat:

Costco COST has an Earnings ESP of +0.20% and a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Casey's General Stores CASY has an Earnings ESP of +3.45% and a Zacks Rank #3.

Dollar Tree DLTR has an Earnings ESP of +0.32% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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