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Express Q4 tops street; provides disappointing outlook

Express store at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Express topped analysts’ expectations in its fourth quarter but provided downbeat guidance for the first quarter. 

Express’ net loss widened to $141.6 million, or a loss of $2.21 a share, in the quarter ended Feb. 1, from a loss $1.1 million, or 2 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding costs, adjusted net income was $12.2 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, just ahead of analysts’ estimates of 18 cents. 

Total net sales fell 3% to $606.7 million, above estimates of $604.8 million. Consolidated same-store sales fell 3%. 

Comparable retail sales, which include both Express stores and e-commerce, decreased 5%. Comparable outlet sales increased 2%.

Express ended the year with 595 stores, which includes 381 full-price stores and 214 outlet locations. 

For the full year, net sales decreased 5% to $2.0 billion. Comparable retail sales, decreased 6%.

For the first quarter, the company expects a per-share loss of 18 cents to 22 cents, more than analysts had forecast. It also expects same-store sales to be down in the mid-single digits percentage range, compared with expectations of a 1.5% rise.

"While there is certainly volatility surrounding the coronavirus, our lean inventory position gives us the flexibility to invest appropriately in new product in response to business trends in the coming months," said CEO Tim Baxter.

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