Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. rose 4.4 percent after the company posted a 30.1 percent jump in fourth-quarter profits.
For the three months ended Jan. 30, the company said net income rose to $57.7 million, or 85 cents a diluted share, from $44.4 million, or 63 cents, a year ago. On an adjusted basis, diluted earnings per share were $1.08 for the quarter, compared with $1.15 a year ago. Net sales slipped 0.6 percent to $1.11 billion from $1.12 billion, while comparable-store sales rose 1 percent.
Abercrombie’s results beat Wall Street’s EPS estimates by 9 cents, and the company also beat revenue expectations of $1.10 billion.
Matthew R. Boss at J.P. Morgan said the adjusted fourth-quarter EPS was “driven by the company’s first positive comp since the first quarter of 2012.” He noted that the company ended the quarter “with inventory down 5.2 percent versus comps up 1 percent limiting markdown risk going forward.”
Arthur Martinez, executive chairman, said the company delivered results in line with its expectations “against a backdrop of a challenging environment that included currency, traffic and weather headwinds. Our results for the fourth quarter reflect continued progress on a number of fronts and included a return to positive comparable sales, higher average unit retails as promotional activity was moderated, and meaningful improvement in adjusted operating income on a constant currency basis.”
Martinez said 2015 was a year of change for the company as it completed its move to a branded structure and strengthened its teams in the process. Assortment was evolved and attention was refocused on the customer “through greater accountability and empowerment at the store level, and through changes in our in-store experience.”
Cowen & Co.’s Oliver Chen said, “We’re most encouraged by acceleration in business at both brands, as well as the international division.”
Richard E. Jaffe at Stifel said the retailer was able to “return to positive comparable sales as customers responded favorably to the company’s improved merchandise assortments despite reduced promotions. We believe [Abercrombie’s] momentum is sustainable driven by continued merchandise improvement, fueled by better talent and inventory management, expense reductions and easy comparisons. We reiterate our ‘Buy’ rating.”
On the merchandise front, Jaffe said there is a more balanced assortment between fashion, logo and core, as well as greater clarity regarding the merchandise’s quality-value proposition.
Shares closed at $30.44 in New York Stock Exchange trading.
The company operates stores for the core Abercrombie brand, Hollister and abercrombie kids.