By  on May 4, 2007

NEW YORK — Talbots Inc. on Thursday revised first-quarter earnings per share downward to the range of 7 cents to 11 cents, from a previously announced expectation of 36 cents to 43 cents.

The Hingham, Mass., firm also said same-store sales were expected to be negative, low to mid-single digits for the first quarter, versus previous expectations of positive, low single digits. Revised EPS for the core Talbots brand is expected in the 30 cents to 32 cents range, compared with 51 cents a year ago. Dragging down EPS expectations is the negative 10 cent range for the J. Jill business, as well as the negative impact of acquisition-related costs of 13 cents.

Arnold B. Zetcher, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the Talbots brand started the quarter strong, but that strength was offset by the "softness in our mid-season sale event." He said regular-price sales rebounded in March, but then declined in April, due in part to weaker-than-expected customer response to Talbots' casual merchandise.

The company said it remained "cautious" and expected to provide additional information on its revised outlook for full-year 2007 when it posts the results of first-quarter earnings on May 23.

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