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Star power helps boost sales at Express Inc.


Buoyed by strong holiday sales, Express reported impressive results for its fourth quarter as the company’s turnaround remained on track. The chain issued an upbeat earnings forecast for the full year.

The specialty retailer reported better-than-expected net income of $56.1 million, or 67 cents per share compared to $41.8 million, or 49 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Net sales increased 5% to $765.6 million from $725.8 million, less than analysts had expected. Same-store sales, including e-commerce, increased 4%. E-commerce sales rose 8% to $156.3 million. “In outlet, we believe a 150-store fleet is appropriate for us,” Pericleous said.

"2015 was a transformative and successful year,” said David Kornberg, president and CEO, Express. “We delivered improved product and customer experiences, while strengthening processes and systems throughout the company.

Kornberg went on to note that Express; operating margin grew by 160 basis points and diluted earnings per share grew by 37%.

“For the full year, our net and comparable sales increased by 9% and 6% respectively, and our operating margin rose 250 basis points, resulting in a 70% increase in our diluted earnings per share and a 79% increase in our adjusted diluted earnings per share,” he said.

During the past few quarters, Express has featured many celebrities in its promotions, from baseball superstar Kris Bryant to NBA MVP Stephen Curry to supermodel Kate Upton. With a consumer target of adults in their twenties and early thirties, the celebrity endorsement portfolio at Express is apparently appealing to many of these core shoppers.

“We expect the positive momentum from last year to continue and, as indicated by our guidance, are optimistic about 2016," Kornberg added. “We believe our key business initiatives provide a roadmap for progress, our new IT systems will lay the groundwork for additional operating efficiencies, and our balanced financial architecture will support consistent, sustainable and profitable growth throughout 2016 and beyond.”

For the first quarter of 2016, the company expects: earnings per share of 16 cents to 19 cents, and adjusted EPS of 25 cents to 28 cents.

Express currently operates more than 650 retail and factory outlet stores across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

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