Shares of Children's Place Inc. dropped 1.1% in premarket trade Thursday, after the childrens apparel retailer provided a current-quarter profit outlook that was below analyst estimates, offsetting better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter results and a 13% dividend hike. For the quarter ended Jan. 31, net earnings rose to $17 million, or 79 cents a share, from $15.7 million, or 69 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted per-share earnings of 94 cents beat the FactSet consensus analyst estimate of 93 cents. Sales increased to $479.2 million from $467.5 million, with same-store sales up 3.7%, compared with the FactSet consensus of $479 million and 2.6%, respectively. The company expects first-quarter adjusted EPS of 60 cents to 65 cents, below the FactSet consensus of 73 cents, as the weakness in the Canadian dollar is expected to hurt results. The company now expects to close 200 stores through 2017, compared with its previous plan to close 125 stores through 2016. The stock has gained 5.9% in the past three months, while the S&P 500 has advanced 1.9%.
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