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Retailers Post Improved Results, Talbots Lower

Although Talbots Inc. delivered disappointing results Wednesday, Tween Brands Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. posted strong results, while The Wet Seal Inc. swung to a profit from a loss.

Although Talbots Inc. delivered disappointing results Wednesday, Tween Brands Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. posted strong results, while The Wet Seal Inc. swung to a profit from a loss.

Talbots Inc. said first-quarter profits were $5.2 million, or 10 cents a diluted shared, down from $27.4 million, or 51 cents, in the same year-ago period. Excluding acquisition costs, earnings per diluted share were 23 cents for the combined company. Talbots bought J. Jill Group Inc. last year. The first-quarter loss for J. Jill was 9 cents a share, while the profit for the Talbots brand was 32 cents, compared with 51 cents last year for only the Talbots brand.

Arnold B. Zetcher, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Talbots, said in a statement that the company was “clearly disappointed” in its performance for the quarter, noting in part the decline in sales in April due to weather and the shift of Easter on this year’s calendar.

“Since the beginning of May, we have been experiencing stronger selling trends at both brands. Nonetheless, we are cautious regarding the second quarter, particularly given a weaker than anticipated April and a very uncertain environment,” Zetcher said.

Off-pricer Ross Stores said its first-quarter profits climbed 13.2 percent to $67 million, or 48 cents a diluted share, from $59.2 million, or 41 cents, in the same year-ago quarter. Sales increased 9.2 percent to $1.41 billion from $1.29 billion, but same-store sales were essentially flat for the quarter.

Juniors chain The Wet Seal posted a profit versus a year-ago loss, which last year was impacted by the conversion of the company’s convertible notes and other charges. The company said net income was $7.6 million, or 7 cents a diluted share, against a $14 million loss, or 22 cents, a year ago. Sales rose 10.3 percent to $138 million from $125.1 million, while comps gained 2.7 percent.

Tween Brands said that first-quarter net income rose 6.6 percent to $12.5 million, or 39 cents, from $11.7 million, or 35 cents, in the same year-ago quarter. Sales increased 14.4 percent to $223.2 million from $195.1 million, while same-store sales rose 3 percent.