NEW YORK — Looking to post strong numbers in the first quarter of its rookie year, Aeropostale Inc. reported Tuesday that it swung last year’s loss into this year’s profit and announced strong May sales.
In its first earnings report since going public last month, the New York-based specialty retailer of teen casual and active apparel said it recorded a net profit of $592,000, or 1 cent a diluted share, for the three months ended May 4, reversing a loss of $2 million, or 7 cents, in the comparable quarter last year.
Sales skyrocketed 50.3 percent to $85.1 million from $56.6 million and 22 percent on a comparable-store basis in the quarter. The retailer also said comps in May rose 19.1 percent.
“These results reflect the strength of our product and brand, and underscore our growing position as a destination store for teenagers in the mall,” Julian R. Geiger, chief executive of the 307-unit chain, said in a statement. “We are particularly pleased with our comparable-store sales performance during the quarter and remain excited as this positive momentum continues.”
Its gross margin increased 640 basis points to 28.4 percent versus 22 percent in the year-ago quarter, driven by the leveraging of buying and occupancy costs created principally by the comparable-store sales gain during the quarter, as well as improved merchandise margins.
On May 21, 2002, the company completed an initial public offering of 14.4 million shares of common stock at a price to the public of $18 per share. Upon completion of the offering, net proceeds of $240.7 million were distributed to the company and selling stockholders. The majority of the proceeds is slated for working capital and for general corporate purposes, including new store openings.
Shares of Aeropostale quickly took off on its first day of trading, climbing $9.70, or 53.9 percent, to close at $27.70 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares closed Tuesday at $28.10, up 55 cents, or 2 percent, just before first-quarter results were made public.
Looking ahead to the current second quarter, the company said it expects an earnings-per-share loss ranging between 11 and 12 cents and sales ranging from $85 million to $87 million. For the third and fourth quarters, it anticipates EPS of 49 to 51 cents and 52 to 55 cents, respectively, and sales in the range of $158 million to $164 million and $196 million to $200 million, respectively.
For the full year, it forecasts EPS between 95 and 97 cents on sales of $526 million to $534 million; comps in the mid- to high-single-digit range, and the opening of at least 80 new stores during 2002.
Geiger said the firm’s focus on “quality merchandise at a value, supported by a meaningful brand name in a fun and exciting environment… differentiates us from our competition and provides us with a compelling platform for growth. Our management team is focused on executing a plan that will result in long-term growth and increased shareholder value.””