Express Kicks It Into Gear in Q4

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Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR) released its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Wednesday. The retailer said that it had $0.34 in earnings per share (EPS) on $693.8 million in revenue, compared with $0.29 per share and $678.78 million in the same period last year. The consensus estimates called for $0.32 in EPS and revenue of $686.85 million.

In accordance with the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, the firm recognized a one-time gain related to the value of its deferred taxes of $3.1 million.

During the quarter, comparable sales (including e-commerce sales) decreased 1%, compared to a 13% decrease in the fourth quarter of 2016. E-commerce sales increased 20% to $203.3 million. On a comparable sales basis, e-commerce sales increased 17%.

In terms of guidance for the fiscal first quarter, the company expects to see comparable sales up or down 1%, and a net loss between $3.0 million and breakeven. The consensus estimates call for a net loss of $0.01 per share on $459.91 million in revenue.

On the books, Express cash and cash equivalents totaled $236.2 million at the end of the quarter, up from $207.4 million in the same period in the previous year.

David Kornberg, president and CEO, commented:

While our overall 2017 full year results were below plan, our performance showed improvement over the course of the year, as our key initiatives gained traction. We were particularly pleased with the performance of our e-commerce business, which continues its significant growth and accounted for over $500 million in sales in 2017. We are confident that our strategy will continue to yield improved results and believe that Express is uniquely positioned to capture opportunities presented by the ongoing retail industry transformation. For 2018, we are focused on delivering compelling product, growing our customer base and brand awareness, and pursuing double-digit growth in our e-commerce business. In addition, we will continue to expand our omni-channel capabilities, while further optimizing our store footprint.

Shares of Express closed Tuesday at $7.40, with a consensus analyst price target of $9.83 and a 52-week range of $5.28 to $11.34. Following the announcement, the stock was up over 5% at $7.80 in early trading indications Wednesday.