Abercrombie's 4Q Profits Dive 58%, Top Forecasts

By Matt Egan Earnings FOXBusiness


Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) disclosed a 58% tumble in fourth-quarter profits on Wednesday, but the struggling teen apparel maker’s profits still managed to easily exceed investors’ fears.

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Shares of A&F advanced 5% on the earnings beat and enthusiasm for the company’s $150 million accelerated share buyback program.

The retailer said it earned $66.1 million, or 85 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $157.2 million, or $1.95 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items like $36.8 million in charges tied to the restructuring of the Gilly Hicks brand, it earned $1.34 a share, which is well ahead of the Street’s view of $1.03.

Revenue fell 12% to $1.3 billion, trailing consensus calls for $1.36 billion. Same-store sales slumped by 8%.

A&F cited “a challenging retail environment, particularly in the teen space.”

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The company said U.S. net sales tumbled 13% to $852 million, while international revenue declined 9% to $447 million. Direct-to-consumer revenue jumped 18% to $315 million.

“It is important that we return to positive growth, particularly in our core U.S. business, and the steps we are taking as we execute against our long-range strategic plan should put us in a position to achieve this,” A&F CEO Mike Jeffries said in a statement.

Looking ahead, A&F projected full-year EPS of $2.15 to $2.35 on a high-single digit decline in same-store sales and a 20% jump in direct-to-consumer sales. Analysts had been calling for EPS of $2.33.

Meanwhile, A&F said its board of directors approved a $150 million accelerated share repurchase to be executed during the first quarter. The buybacks are on top of existing authorization of 16.3 million shares.

Shares of New Albany, Ohio-based A&F rallied 4.61% to $37.65 in premarket trading on Wednesday. While A&F has gained 9% so far in 2014, it remains down 21% over the past year.

Frustrated A&F shareholders have pressured the company to make changes, including last month stripping Jeffries of his chairman title in favor of former Sears (SHLD) CEO Arthur Martinez.

Earlier this week, activist shareholder Engaged Capital nominated a slate of five candidates to the A&F board.

"For far too long, stockholders have suffered under the failed leadership of a board that has lacked the independence necessary to properly act as our fiduciaries,” Glenn Welling, chief investment officer at Engaged Capital, wrote in a statement.