Express lifts 4Q, full-year profit outlooks on better-than-expected holiday season finish

MarketsAssociated Press

Express is boosting its fourth-quarter and full-year profit forecasts, citing its better-than-expected performance at the end of December and beginning of January.

The retailer's stock rose before the opening bell Monday.

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Chairman and CEO Michael Weiss said that Express Inc. experienced slowing sales during the first three weeks of December, but that its performance has bounced back since.

Express, which sells women's and men's clothing and accessories, now anticipates fourth-quarter earnings of 43 to 46 cents per share. Its prior guidance was for 38 to 45 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of 42 cents per share.

Fourth-quarter sales at stores open at least a year are now predicted to fall 3 percent to 4 percent. Express previously forecast a mid to high single digit decline in the figure.

Sales at stores open at least a year are a key gauge of a retailer's health because they exclude the volatility from stores recently opened or closed.

For the full year, Express now foresees earnings between 74 cents and 77 cents per share. Previously it predicted 69 cents to 76 cents per share.

Wall Street is looking for full-year earnings of 74 cents per share.

Sales at stores are open at least a year are now expected to drop in a mid-single digit range. Its prior outlook was for a mid to high single digit decline.

The company, which has more than 600 stores, expects to report its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results the week of March 8. Its stock gained nearly 7 percent before the market open.