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NEW YORK — Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc. posted a narrower second-quarter loss as the company continues to explore options for Lucky Brand and Juicy Couture.

This story first appeared in the August 9, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Sources said final bids for Juicy Couture were received last month and, as reported, the two in the hunt were brand management firm Authentic Brands Group and private equity group IDG Capital Partners. In the past week, financial and market sources said that talks have intensified with IDG Capital, with Authentic Brands as the backup bidder.

Lucky Brand also has been shopped, and exclusive discussions reportedly began last month with global private equity firm Advent International.

William L. McComb, chief executive officer, said Thursday, “We are continuing our work to identify the best path forward with our brand portfolio to maximize shareholder value and will provide an update as and when appropriate.”

During the conference call to Wall Street analysts, McComb’s reference to the bidding process was just, “We have no news to report relating to our portfolio strategy  today.”

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As for earnings, while the company posted improved results, it still missed Wall Street estimates for both losses per share and sales for the quarter.

For the three months ended June 29, the net loss was $43.1 million, or 36 cents, compared with a year-ago loss of $52.1 million, or 48 cents. The adjusted loss per share from continuing operations for the second quarter was 12 cents, versus a 9 cent loss a year ago. Wall Street’s consensus estimate was an adjusted loss of 10 cents for the current quarter.

Total sales for the quarter rose 13.4 percent to $382 million from $336.9 million. That too was lower than the $392.7 million in sales Wall Street analysts were expecting for the current quarter.

For the six months, the net loss narrowed to $95.3 million, or 80 cents a diluted share, on a 15.3 percent net sales gain to $753.8 million.

As it did in the first quarter, Kate Spade continued to remain the bright spot in Fifth & Pacific’s portfolio. Its direct-to-consumer comparable sales in the second quarter jumped 27 percent. In contrast, Lucky Brand was up 2 percent in direct-to consumer comps, while Juicy Couture was down 4 percent for the period.

The Kate Spade business continues to expand in all channels and geographies, with total sales up 65.3 percent during the quarter to $166.8 million.

The ceo said that the company opened 14 stores globally under the core Kate Spade New York concept and two Kate Spade Saturday units. In addition, the company is “on track to open 12 new stores in the third quarter and 18 new stores in the fourth quarter,” he noted.

Success in the domestic specialty channel included strong reaction to occasion dresses, cardigans and knit dresses. Also doing well were small leather goods and small fashion bags, along with jewelry and the “successful launch of the new fragrance, Live Colorfully,” the ceo said.

Total net sales at Lucky Brand fell 2 percent to $109.4 million, driven primarily by the timing impact of wholesale shipments discussed in the last quarter. McComb said that the international expansion is under way, with the brand “launching this fall in Indonesia, South Africa, the Middle East, Venezuela, Chile, Panama and Colombia.”

Total net sales at Juicy Couture were down 11 percent to $93.7 million, and while the apparel business was up slightly from a year ago, accessories remains a problem area.

The company said it continues to “forecast adjusted EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization], net of foreign currency transaction adjustments, in the range of $120 million to $150 million.”

Shares of Fifth & Pacific rose 4.1 percent to close at $25.01 in trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.