Why American Eagle Earnings Are Not Enough for Investors

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American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) released its most recent quarterly results before the markets opened on Thursday. This company joins an increasing number of retailers that saw their earnings fall flat during the fourth quarter. Most recently we saw Dollar Tree and Kroger slip.

The retailer posted $0.44 in earnings per share (EPS) on $1.23 billion in revenue, compared with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.44 in EPS on revenue of $1.21 billion. The same period of last year had EPS of $0.39 and $1.1 billion in revenue.

During the quarter, consolidated comparable sales for this period increased 8% year over year. Also for this period, as the result of recent U.S. tax legislation, the company realized $0.08 per share of tax benefit.

In terms of the outlook for the fiscal first quarter, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $0.20 to $0.22. Consensus estimates call for $0.19 in EPS on $791.55 million in revenue for the quarter.

CEO Jay Schottenstein commented on guidance:

Looking ahead to 2018, our brands are well‐positioned for growth. American Eagle is a true leader in specialty apparel, with one of the strongest jeans brands in the market, and Aerie is one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands. We started the spring season with positive momentum, positioning us well for strong results in 2018. The dividend increase we announced today reflects confidence in our business, strong free cash flow and our continued commitment to delivering returns to shareholders.

He added:

I’m pleased that we ended 2017 with a strong quarter, achieving record sales and an EPS increase over last year. In the fourth quarter we saw an acceleration in sales, continued sequential margin improvement and EPS growth that was on the high end of our guidance. The digital business continued its exceptional growth, rising over 20% in the quarter, and we were encouraged with improved brick and mortar trends, delivering positive sales comps in both American Eagle and Aerie stores.

Shares of American Eagle were last seen down 8.5% at $18.83 on Thursday, with a consensus analyst price target of $19.41 and a 52-week range of $10.23 to $20.83.