Ascena Retail To Report Wider-than-expected Loss As Holiday Sales Disappoint

By Tomi Kilgore Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Ascena Retail Group Inc. warned that fiscal second-quarter losses would be wider than expected, as disappointing holiday traffic led to increased promotional activity. The apparel retailer, which store brands include Ann Taylor and Loft, now expects and adjusted per-share loss of 11 cents to 8 cents, compared with the FactSet consensus for a loss of 3 cents. The company now expects fiscal 2017 adjusted earnings per share of 37 cents to 42 cents, below the FactSet consensus of 58 cents. Same-store sales for the holiday period--Nov. 19 through Jan. 2--fell 3.1%, with Ann Taylor sales down 8.2%, Loft sales down 1.8% and Lane Bryant sales down 5.1%. "Outside of discrete peaks during the holiday season, we experienced stronger than expected store traffic headwinds," said Chief Executive David Jaffe. "As a result, we were forced into a more highly promotional stance in order to move through inventory in the face of softer overall consumer demand." The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has tumbled 43% over the past 12 months, while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has gained 6.9% and the S&P 500 has rallied 18%.

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