Ann Taylor Q4 profit beats expectations

By @ibtimes on

Ann Taylor Stores Corp posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit as its wear-to-work clothes sold well during the holiday quarter, offsetting some margin hurt from discounts by the women's clothes retailer.

Its shares rose 10 percent in Friday's pre-market trade.

The company, which said it will change its name to Ann Inc as it focuses on other channels like online and factory outlets, also forecast strong first-quarter sales.

We delivered an 11 percent comparable sales increase for the quarter, with both brands achieving positive comparable sales performance. In fact, the company achieved positive comparable sales in every quarter of fiscal 2010, Chief Executive Kay Krill said in a statement.

Ann Taylor, which owns its namesake as well as LOFT stores, said it bought back 4.2 million shares for $100 million during the first quarter.

Fourth-quarter earnings stood at $8 million, or 14 cents a share, compared with $41,000, or breakeven per share, a year ago. On an adjusted basis, it earned 19 cents a share.

Analysts, on average, were expecting it to earn 17 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales for the quarter stood at $515.3 million, up from $469.1 million last year.

Ann Taylor's stock has fallen around 14 percent since hitting a 31-month high in December, underperforming a 5.3 percent drop on the S&P Apparel retail sub-index <.GSPRETA> since the year-end holiday season.

On Friday, it was trading at $26.60 before the markets opened. It had closed at $24.21 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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