Shares of J. Jill Inc. dropped 37.6 percent in after-market trading after the company lowered third-quarter guidance due to lackluster sales because of some merchandise misses.
The company said it expects total company comparable sales of minus 3 to minus 5 percent, and generally accepted accounting principles diluted earnings per share of 7 cents to 9 cents, or between 8 cents and 10 cents on an adjusted basis. Adjusted diluted EPS excludes about $600,000 of non-recurring expenses connected with the firm’s transition to a public company in March.
The lowered guidance compared with earlier projections in August — when the company posted second-quarter results — of comps up in the high-single digits, and GAAP diluted EPS in the range of 17 cents to 19 cents. Adjusted EPS was guided to between 18 cents and 20 cents.
Paula Bennett, president and chief executive officer, said, “We have experienced a lower-than-expected sales trend across both our retail and direct channels, and are updating our guidance for the quarter. We have been assessing the change in trend and have identified product and marketing calendar issues that are affecting traffic and conversion, and we are reacting quickly.”
Jill has had a number of promotions in the last few weeks, an indication that the company has already implemented plans to move through slow-selling product.
One source said the problem in September was that the company misjudged what would sell and what wouldn’t, noting that it quickly sold out of some key items and didn’t have enough on hand to offset the “significant misses” in other categories, such as woven tops where the company invested heavily on inventory.
The company said it will provide fourth-quarter outlook on Dec. 5 when it posts third-quarter results, as well as a revised outlook for fiscal-year 2017.