Why Express Earnings Failed to Live Up to Expectations

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Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR) reported its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Wednesday. The company said that it had $0.29 in earnings per share (EPS) and $678.8 million in revenue, compared with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.29 in EPS and revenue of $675.89 million. In the same period of last year, the retailer posted EPS of $0.67 and $765.55 million in revenue.

During this quarter, comparable sales (including e-commerce sales) decreased 13%, compared to a 4% increase in the fourth quarter last year. At the same time, e-commerce sales increased 9% to $170.1 million.

In terms of guidance for the 2017 fiscal year, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $0.65 to $0.73, with comparable sales flat to low single digits. The consensus estimates are $0.87 in EPS and $2.21 billion in revenue.

On the books, Express cash and cash equivalents totaled $207.4 million at the end of the quarter, up from $186.9 million in the same period of last year.

David Kornberg, resident and CEO, commented:

Despite ongoing pressures in the retail sector, our fourth quarter earnings were in line with previously issued guidance. As expected, our store performance continued to be impacted by challenging mall traffic and a promotional retail environment. As our industry adapts to changing consumer preferences, we continue to invest in our omni-channel and marketing capabilities to ensure that we capitalize on this evolution. As a result, e-commerce sales made up 25% of fourth quarter net sales, with sales increasing 9% over the prior year period. We also remain intensely focused on managing our overall cost structure and optimizing our store footprint. Our balance sheet remains strong with more than $200 million in cash and we continue to have solid cash flow.

Shares of Express closed Tuesday at $10.67, with a consensus analyst price target of $12.00 and a 52-week trading range of $9.91 to $21.57. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was down over 12% at $9.36 in early trading indications Wednesday.