J. Crew Group Inc. estimated full-year earnings would be in line with Wall Street estimates but reduced sales expectations for the fourth quarter, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission released Thursday.

This story first appeared in the January 21, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The apparel retailer, which is expected to be acquired by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners for $3 billion, anticipates annual earnings of $2.08 to $2.13 a share. Analysts were looking for EPS of $2.11, Yahoo Finance said.

The projection implies fourth-quarter EPS of 30 cents to 35 cents for the fourth quarter, versus the analyst consensus estimate of 34 cents.

For the fourth quarter, J. Crew projected same-store sales to decline in the midsingle digits versus its previous outlook of a low-single-digit decline. Inventories are expected to increase in the midteens on a percentage basis versus the comparable period last year.

The firm reaffirmed its gross margin outlook, forecasting a decline of 600 to 700 basis points compared with the fourth quarter of 2009.

The company said that in the first two months of the fourth quarter, through Jan. 1, comparable-store sales decreased 3.2 percent, on top of a 16.7 percent increase in the comparable months of fiscal 2009. Internet and phone sales grew 11.8 percent to $126.1 million. Direct sales were up 11.7 percent in the comparable year-ago period.

The update comes one day after J. Crew extended the “go-shop” period by one month, until Feb. 15, and trimmed the size of the termination fee tied to its acquisition.

Shares of J. Crew Thursday closed at $43.42, down 3 cents or 0.1 percent.

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