Abercrombie & Fitch Boosts Dividend, Changes Accounting Method

Clothes on hangers
Clothes on hangers

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 earnings before markets opened this morning.

For the quarter, the specialty retailer posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.21 on revenues of $1.47 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported adjusted EPS of $1.12 on revenues of $1.33 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.96 and $1.49 billion in revenues.

For the full year, A&F reported EPS of $3.22 on revenues of $4.51 billion. Analysts were expecting EPS of $2.98 on revenues of $4.53 billion.

The company announced a change in its way of valuing inventory, from the retail accounting method to a cost accounting method. The change will take effect with A&F's annual report and prior year figures will be "restated accordingly." The switch added $0.20 to adjusted EPS in the fourth quarter and $0.31 to full-year EPS.

A&F also raised its quarterly dividend from $0.175 to $0.20, beginning with the March payment.

The company's CEO said:

Despite a challenging U.S. retail environment over the holiday period, our core U.S. chain plus DTC [direct-to-consumer] comparable sales remained positive and we saw continued sequential improvement in our international business. We come into 2013 feeling very optimistic that we are well positioned to make continued strong progress over the next few years and to drive our operating margin and return on invested capital higher.

In its comments on the company's outlook for 2013, A&F said it expects EPS for the full year in the range of $3.35 to $3.45. The consensus estimate calls for 2013 EPS of $3.63 on revenues of $4.88 billion.

The change in accounting methods muddies up A&F's report slightly. On a retail accounting method, quarterly adjusted EPS came in at $2.01, which includes a $0.06 per share impairment charge. That still beats the consensus estimate, but revenues for the quarter and for the full year were just a bit short of expectations. The forecast 2013 EPS is considerably short of expectations, and assuming the consensus estimate is based on the retail accounting method, the shortfall could widen under the new accounting procedures. Perhaps the company's conference call later this morning will clear this up.

Shares are trading up about 1.9% to $50.00, in a 52-week range of $28.64 to $54.10. The consensus target price for the shares was around $53.40 before today's report.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Apparel, Earnings, Retail, Services Tagged: ANF