Retailer Express Sinks on Forecast

Clothes on hangers
Clothes on hangers

Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR) reported fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012 results before markets opened this morning.

For the quarter, the specialty retailer reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.75 on revenues of $728.7 million. In the same period a year ago, Express reported adjusted EPS of $0.70 on revenue of $673.2 million. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.74 and $722.38 million in revenue.

For the quarter, same-store sales rose 1.5% on a comparable 14-week basis.

For the full year, the company reported EPS of $1.60 on $2.15 billion in revenues, down from an adjusted EPS of $1.66 in 2011. The consensus estimate had called for EPS of $1.58 on revenues of $2.14 billion.

The company's CEO said:

As we begin 2013, we expect to advance each of our existing four pillars of growth. In addition, we are also excited to pursue a new growth opportunity in 2013 through the development of a new Express outlet business. … While our guidance anticipates a softer start to the year, reflecting the impact of reduced traffic levels and consumer spending in the month of February, our spring merchandise has been received favorably by our customers, resulting in an improvement in conversion, which we do consider to be a leading indicator, early in the first quarter.

The company offered first-quarter EPS guidance of $0.34 to $0.38, with same-store sales coming in flat to up 4% compared to the first quarter of last year. The consensus estimate called for first-quarter EPS of $0.46. For the full year EPS is forecast at $1.40 to $1.54, well below the consensus estimate of $1.72. The lower guidance is attributed to expenses associated with opening new stores and "some degradation of merchandise margin" in the first quarter.

Shares are down 12.4% in premarket trading, at $16.50 in a 52-week range of $10.47 to $26.27. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $20.90 before today's results were announced.

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