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Disappointing quarter for women's apparel retailer

Fashion missteps tripped up the parent company of such brands as Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and Dressbarn in its first quarter.

Ascena Retail Group reported net income of $6.6 million, or 3 cents a share, down from $$14 million in the year-ago period. After adjustments for restructuring costs and other effects, Ascena claimed earnings of 11 cents a share, down from 18 cents a share in the year-ago period.

Net sales totaled $1.59 billion. Total same-store sales fell 5%, which the company attributed primarily to a a mid-single digit decline in average selling price. The three hurricanes, which impacted the southern United States and Puerto, negatively impacted sales by approximately $11 million. Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of 11 cents a share on net sales of $1.59 billion, according to FactSet.

“Our first quarter adjusted earnings per share of 11 cents was in the middle of our guidance range, but represented a disappointing quarter," CEO David Jaffe said. We were unable to capitalize on the improving macro traffic environment due to fashion missteps that we cannot afford in today's environment. We continue to to deliver double-digit transaction growth in our direct channel, but must improve our overall level of merchandising execution."

Ascena operates some 4,800 stores throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico under a variety of banners, including Ann Taylor, Loft, maurices, Dressbarn, Catherines, and Justice.

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