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Aeropostale Flies Higher As Wet Seal Dives Lower

NEW YORK — For Aeropostale, the second quarter blossomed as the teen retailer leveraged its merchandise mix and operational prowess to deliver textbook- perfect results.<BR><BR>But for Wet Seal, it was a quarter management might prefer to...

NEW YORK — For Aeropostale, the second quarter blossomed as the teen retailer leveraged its merchandise mix and operational prowess to deliver textbook- perfect results.

But for Wet Seal, it was a quarter management might prefer to forget.

Wet Seal Inc. took a $75.5 million noncash charge that relates to deferment of tax assets, “which principally consists of net operating loss carry-forwards for federal and state purposes.” It also includes store-level impairment charges.

So, for the quarter ended July 31, Wet Seal said the operating loss came in at $102.8 million, or $3.20 a diluted share, which compares with a loss of $13.4 million, or 45 cents, in the prior year. Sales for the quarter fell 13.9 percent to $105.6 million from $122.6 million.

The loss for the six-month period was $123.1 million, or $3.95 a share, which compares with a loss of $21.9 million, or 74 cents, a year ago. Sales dropped 15.4 percent to $205.4 million from $242.8 million.

For the second quarter, the operating loss swelled to $27.1 million from a loss of $18.5 million in the prior year.

In the report, the firm said the board set up a committee to “analyze appropriate alternatives to enhance shareholder value.” The company is also looking to hire a financial adviser.

Aeropostale Inc.’s second-quarter results, meanwhile, achieved benchmark status with strong sales, higher gross margin rates and robust earnings. The stellar performance was done on a larger store base, but on significantly lower selling, general and administrative costs.

Net income for the quarter ended July 31 swelled 297.4 percent to $10.9 million, or 19 cents per diluted share, from $2.7 million, or 5 cents per share, in the prior year as sales jumped 50 percent to $194.9 million from $129.9 million. Same-store sales shot up 20 percent.

Julian R. Geiger, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement that during the quarter the retailer was “able to perform at a high level and achieve record sales and earnings because of the ongoing strength of our brand, our merchandise assortment and our continuing dedication to improving execution.”

Stores opened at the end of the quarter stood at 521, which compares with 427 in the same period last year. The gross margin rate jumped to 30.5 percent in the quarter from 27.4 percent in the prior year while SG&A as a percent of sales fell to 21.5 percent from 24.1 percent.

“Our ability to translate significant top-line growth into meaningful operating margin expansion underscores the advantages of our unique operating formula,” Geiger said, adding that the retailer’s “back-to-school selling season has had a strong start, and we believe we are well positioned to build on our positive momentum as we head into fall.”