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Limited Brands, American Eagle Outfitters among apparel retailers beating Street estimates


New York City Several key apparel retailers beat Wall Street estimates in January and offered upbeat outlooks for the fourth quarter. Limited Brands, American Eagle Outfitters, and Children's Place Retail Stores were among the retailers that beat projections, with Children's Place saying it will no longer post monthly same-store sales.

Children’s Place said its January same-store sales were up 12% in January, while online sales surged 34%. Net sales for the month were up 18% to $95.1 million.

In its statement, the company said that beginning with the first quarter of fiscal 2010, “and consistent with the practices of many other retail companies,” it will begin reporting net sales and comparable retail sales on a quarterly basis along with its quarterly earnings releases. It will discontinue reporting net sales and comparable retail sales on a monthly basis.

At Limited Brands, same-store sales climbed 6% in January, easily beating Wall Street's expectations. Net sales grew 5% to $622.6 million from $591.6 million.

For the fourth quarter, same-store sales edged up 1%. Net sales for the period ended Jan. 30 rose 2% to $3.06 billion from $3 billion.

Limited's same-store stores fell 4% for the year ending Jan. 30. Total net sales dropped 5% to $8.63 billion from $9.04 billion.

At the value-chain Ross Stores, same-store sales rose 8%. Analysts, on average, had expected same-store sales to rise 7.5%.

Sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 30 rose 13% to $411 million. Same-store sales for grew 8%. For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 30, sales grew 11% to $7.184 billion and same-store sales rose 6%.

"We are very pleased with our strong sales performance for January and the fourth quarter,” said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and CEO, Ross Stores. "Merchandise and geographic trends were relatively broad-based. Home and Shoes were the strongest merchandise categories in January, while the Mid-Atlantic and Mountain regions were the top-performing markets."

Among the January disappointments was Hot Topic, with a 13.1% drop in same-store sales, worse than the 12.1% decline expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Total January sales fell 11.2% to $39.8 million. Part of the drop in revenue is due to sinking sales of merchandise related to the "Twilight" vampire saga, the company said.

For the fourth quarter ended in January, sales were down 10% to $214.2 million, missing analysts' estimates of $216 million.

In a surprising result, Buckle, a strong performer throughout the downturn, posted an unexpected 1.2% drop in January same-store sales. Analysts had expected sales to rise 4.1%.

Overall sales in the four weeks ended Jan. 31 rose 4.4% to $50.2 million. For the fiscal fourth quarter ending in January, The Buckle said same-store sales rose 3.8%, while net sales were up 9.2% to $274.4 million.

Full-year same-store sales rose 7.8% from the year before, and net sales rose 13.4% to $898.3 million.

In other apparel same-store sales results for January:

  •  Aeropostale’s same-store sales were up 6.0% versus analysts’ estimates of 6.2%. Total net sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 30 rose 15% to $111.2 million. The retailer raised its fourth-quarter profit forecast.

  • Gap’s same-store sales were up 4.4%, slightly better than analysts estimated. Net sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 31 rose 5% to $798 million.

  • Abercrombie & Fitch, which has struggled during the recession, said its same-store sales rose 8%. Total sales for the month rose 16% to $222.8 million. Analysts expected an 8.4% drop.

  • American Eagle Outfitters recorded a 10% rise in same-store sales. Total sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 30 rose 18% to $163.5 million. The company raised its fourth-quarter earnings view.

  • Urban Outfitters’ sales grew 4%. The company's Anthropologie and Free People stores led the growth, posting gains of 10% and 11% respectively, while sales at namesake Urban Outfitters locations were flat. Direct-to-consumer sales jumped 28%.

  • Wet Seal’s sales dropped 3.7% in line with expectations. But the chain raised its fourth-quarter earnings estimate.

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