Why L Brands Stock Dropped 12% in May

What happened

Shares of L Brands (NYSE: LB), owner of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, lost 12.4% in value last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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The stock was already falling entering the month as the Victoria's Secret brand has lost customers to rivals like American Eagle Outfitters. The stock popped 13% following the better-than-expected operating results for the fiscal first quarter in late May, but the stock still finished down for the month.

So what

L Brands reported slightly better sales of $2.629 billion compared to the year-ago quarter. But comparable-store sales were flat as Victoria's Secret comp sales declined by 5%, which overshadowed the comp-sales increase of 13% at Bath & Body Works.

Earnings per share came in at $0.14, down from $0.17 in the year-ago quarter, but higher than management's guidance for breakeven, which the company credited to a strong performance at Bath & Body.

Now what

Management pointed to some moves it's making to improve operating performance. One is the sale of La Senza and the closure of Henri Bendel -- two unprofitable businesses that contributed to a total operating loss in the "Other" category last year of $265 million. The absence of these money-losing businesses should improve the bottom line.

Additionally, management gave investors a heads-up that improvements are on the way for Victoria's Secret. CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer said that "substantial changes to the assortment are coming. You'll see that beginning in August."

The company's guidance reveals management's view that performance will improve. For the full year, management is now calling for earnings per share in the range of $2.30 to $2.60, which represents a raise at the low end of $0.10, compared to previous guidance.

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John Ballard has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.