By  on April 28, 2008

Charming Shoppes Inc. said Friday that it is exploring strategic alternatives for its noncore apparel catalogues in order to focus on its core brands.

Institutional investors have been pressuring the plus-size women's apparel retailer over its faltering stock performance and its loss in the fourth quarter.

The company, which operates Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherine's, said it has received inquiries from third parties to evaluate the noncore assets. Charming Shoppes has retained Banc of America Securities and Lehman Brothers Inc. as its

financial advisers.

The retailer said it expects to cut $20 million in capital expenditures during the year by trimming spending on store infrastructure. This reduction is in addition to a previously announced reduction of $43 million for fiscal 2009.

"We believe a refinancing of certain of our real estate assets would generate meaningful additional net cash proceeds to the company," said Dorrit Bern, chairman, chief executive officer and president. "As a result, we anticipate executing on this refinancing during the second quarter of the current fiscal year."

For the three months ended Feb. 2, the Bensalem, Pa.-based retailer reported a loss of $128.7 million, or $1.10 a diluted share, excluding a one-time gain from an eminent domain settlement, compared with earnings of $24.9 million, or 19 cents, in the same quarter a year earlier. Sales for the three months fell 10.2 percent to $784.9 million from $874 million, as total same-store sales dropped 9 percent.

Shares of Charming Shoppes rose 6.2 percent to close at $5.15.

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