Will Gap Earnings Breathe New Life Into the Company?

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When Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) reported first-quarter fiscal year 2017 results after markets closed Thursday, the clothing retailer posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.36 on revenues of $3.4 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.32 on revenues of $3.44 billion. First-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $0.29 and $3.39 billion in revenues.

Same-store sales rose 2% in the first quarter, compared with a drop of 5% in the same period a year ago. By global division, Gap same-store sales fell 4% compared with a drop of 3% in the year-ago quarter; Banana Republic same-store sales fell 4% compared with a drop of 11% a year ago; and Old Navy comparable-store sales rose 8% this year compared with a drop of 6% last year.

During the quarter, Gap repurchased 4.2 million shares for about $100 million and will pay a dividend of $0.23 per share on approximately 396 million shares outstanding.

The company expects its store count at the end of this year to be about flat with last year, a change from an earlier projection that Gap would open about 40 new stores this year.

CEO Art Peck said:

While the retail environment continues to be challenging, we are focused on delivering the best possible product and customer experience, and our ability to leverage a portfolio of iconic brands and operating scale uniquely positions the company for long-term growth.

Gap’s report added a bit more good news to a day that saw retail giant Wal-Mart also post a good earnings report. The pain in retail appears to be greatest in department stores like Macy’s and Penney’s and specialty retailers aimed at younger consumers.

Gap reiterated EPS guidance of $1.95 to $2.05 for the fiscal year while updating its guidance for the first half of the year. The company said it expects first-half EPS to improve from a prior estimate of down in the high-single digits to down in the mid-single digits.

Analysts are looking for second-quarter EPS of $0.56 and revenues of $3.8 billion. For the full year, analysts have forecast EPS of $1.99 and revenues of $15.58 billion.

Shares traded up 4% in the after-hours market Thursday at $24.15 in a 52-week range of $17.00 to $30.74. The consensus target price for the shares was $25.00 before today’s report.