By  on February 8, 2012

NEW YORK — The Jones Group Inc. posted improved financial results as it narrowed its fourth-quarter loss.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, the loss attributable to common stockholders was $20.4 million, or 27 cents a diluted share, compared with a loss of $38.3 million, or 47 cents, a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations, excluding certain charges such as restructuring costs, were 10 cents a share compared with adjusted EPS of 4 cents a year ago.

Sales rose 2.3 percent to $878.1 million from $858.4 million. Including licensing income and other revenues, total revenues for the period also rose 2.3 percent to $893.6 million from $873.7 million.

Wes Card, chief executive officer, said, “We are committed to driving profitability and continue to operate efficiently, control costs and execute at a high level.”

Chief financial officer John T. McClain said that the firm is approaching 2012 inventory commitments with a “conservative, tightened buy plan,” the same approach it had in 2011.

In a telephone interview, Card said the economy in the U.S. “feels like it is coming out of a recession. The signals are looking more green than red.” Card is remaining cautious since it is hard to tell if the “economy is fundamentally gaining strength or will slip back.”

He did say that the European economy seemed to be tipping back into a recession and that Asia, though softened mostly due to a slowdown in China, remains a strong market due to the “rapidly growing middle class.”

The company’s Stuart Weitzman brand is “rolling out quickly in China.” Also set for expansion is Kurt Geiger, which is set to launch an Internet site in the U.S. in April. According to Card, Geiger will have five stores open in the U.S. by the end of the year.

The ceo said it was still too early to get a read on apparel sales for the spring season. He said “footwear is off to a good start.” Card was optimistic about apparel, noting the new colors for the season and strong interest in denim, particularly the colored denim options.

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