ARDEN WARNS: Elizabeth Arden Inc. on Monday warned that its first-quarter earnings will come in even further below previous guidance due to the Iraqi conflict, the SARS epidemic and depressed air travel. The New York-based fragrance and beauty products manufacturer said it now expects to record a first-quarter loss of 92 to 94 cents a diluted share on sales of $133 million to $135 million. Arden’s prior guidance had been in line with last year’s first-half loss of $1.24, of which half was incurred in the first quarter. The Wall Street consensus estimate was for a smaller loss of 84 cents a share on sales of $140.7 million. However, since the first quarter is historically the company’s weakest, Arden still expects to achieve full-year net sales growth of 5 to 7 percent and an earnings-per-share increase of 20 to 25 percent, a company spokeswoman said. Arden acknowledged that its estimates could change if the SARS epidemic and soft economy continued throughout the year. The company is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings on May 28.

GMM FOR AT STORES: Ann Taylor Inc. has appointed Michele Delahunty senior vice president, general merchandise manager, for its Ann Taylor stores division. Delahunty replaces Sandra Masters-Aronson, who resigned. Delahunty will report to Jerome Jessup, senior executive vice president for merchandising and design at Ann Taylor stores. Most recently, Delahunty served as vice president for GapBody at Gap Inc., where she was responsible for merchandising, production, sourcing and stores. Previously, she was divisional merchandise manager of women’s woven’s at Banana Republic.

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