Aéropostale Inc. will explore its strategic and financial options, which could include a sale of the company or a restructuring.
The teen retailer made the disclosure as it posted fourth-quarter results. Shares plummeted 41.7 percent to 28 cents following the report and the board’s decision to authorize management to consider strategic options.
Chief executive officer Julian Geiger said while the business trend has improved, short-term visibility is limited by its current vendor dispute. That dispute is with MGF Sourcing US LLC, an affiliate of private equity firm Sycamore Partners. Aéropostale said it believes MGF is in violation of a sourcing agreement, and that the violation is “causing disruption in the supply of some merchandise, which, if unresolved, could cause a liquidity constraint.”
A spokesman for MGF Sourcing said, “MGF Sourcing is not in violation of its sourcing agreement with Aéropostale. In fact, MGF has taken action to protect itself by reducing payment terms as permitted under the agreement.”
Sycamore in 2014 provided Aéropostale with a $150 million credit facility, and in exchange the private equity firm received convertible preferred stock in the retailer. Sycamore’s managing director Stefan Kaluzny joined the teen chain’s board, but he elected not to stand for reelection to the board last year.
For the three months ended Jan. 30, the net loss widened to $21.7 million, or 27 cents a diluted share, from a loss of $13.5 million, or 17 cents, a year ago. On an adjusted basis, the net loss was $10.8 million, or 14 cents a diluted share, against adjusted net income of $400,000, or 1 cent, a year ago. Net sales dropped 16.1 percent to $498 million from $593.8 million. Comparable-store sales, including e-commerce, declined 6.7 percent.
The company provided first-quarter guidance, which estimated a net loss in the range of 35 to 42 cents a diluted share.
Aéropostale said there has not been any timetable set for the strategic review process, and that there can be no assurance that the process will result in any specific action. The company has hired Stifel and other advisers to help with the review process.