By  on June 7, 2011

Shares of The Talbots Inc. tumbled more than 40 percent Tuesday when its return to profitability in the first quarter was far overshadowed by large declines in sales and margins and a bleak outlook for the second quarter.

Trudy Sullivan, president and chief executive officer, said, “Our first-quarter performance reflects an inconsistent customer response to our merchandise assortments, a challenging competitive environment and high levels of promotional activity.” Without providing specific earnings guidance, the company said sales and traffic have continued to “trend negative” so far in the second quarter, when it expects continuing high levels of promotion and markdown activity. Quarter-to-date sales are down in the low teens, according to Michael Scarpa, chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

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