American Eagle Outfitters Inc. posted solid fourth-quarter gains, capping off a strong year for the company caught in the middle of the struggling teen sector.
Fourth-quarter net income increased 32.6 percent to $81.7 million, or 42 cents a diluted share, from $61.6 million, or 32 cents, a year earlier. The earnings results were in line with Wall Street expectations. Operating income gained 3 percent to $116 million. Sales for the three months ended Jan. 30 gained 3.2 percent to $1.11 billion from $1.07 billion.
American Eagle fared better for the full year.
Last year, net earnings shot up 172 percent to $218.1 million from $80.3 million as sales gained 7.3 percent to $3.52 billion.
That’s a big move in the right direction for the company, which saw modest declines in sales and profits in 2014.
“Initiatives to strengthen our merchandise and improve operational execution fueled strong results in 2015,” said Jay Schottenstein, chief executive officer, who took the top post at the company in December after two years as interim ceo.
“As broadly reported, the fourth quarter was a challenging period for the apparel industry due to a number of macro factors,” Schottenstein said. “Despite this, we achieved sales growth and a modest increase in operating income. We are encouraged that our spring season is off to a good start against positive results last year. Our focus in 2016 will center on continuous merchandise improvements, elevating our efforts on customer acquisition and optimizing the strength of our operations and brands.”
For the first quarter, the company is looking for a midsingle-digit gain in comparable-store sales and adjusted earnings per share of 17 cents to 19 cents — above the 15 cents analysts had penciled in.
Investors pushed the stock up 3 percent to $15.91 in after-hours trading today.