Why Ascena Retail Is Tuesday’s Big Earnings Winner

When Ascena Retail Group Inc. (NASDAQ: ASNA) released its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Monday, the company said that it had $0.07 in earnings per share (EPS) and $1.77 billion in revenue. That compares with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters of $0.02 in EPS and $1.62 billion in revenue, as well as the $0.05 per share and $1.66 billion posted in the same period of last year.

During the latest quarter, net sales were driven up as a result of a 4% increase in comparable sales and roughly $88 million in sales associated with the additional week in the period.

In terms of its segments the company reported as follows:

  • Premium Fashion net sales increased 3.5% year over year to $620.4 million.
  • Value Fashion net sales increased 1.4% to $485.9 million.
  • Plus Fashion net sales increased 6.2% to $382.5 million.
  • Kids Fashion net sales increased 26.7% to $277.5 million.

Looking ahead to the fiscal first quarter, the company expects to see EPS in the range of −$0.04 to $0.06 and net sales between $1.54 billion and $1.56 billion, with comparable sales flat to up 2%. Consensus estimates call for $0.15 in EPS and $1.52 billion in revenue.

David Jaffe, CEO of Ascena, commented:

Our fourth quarter reflected sequential comp improvement across all our brands, and the first enterprise-level positive comp quarter for ascena since the second quarter of Fiscal 2015. Comparable sales increased 4%, and excluding dressbarn, all brands delivered positive comps. Specific to dressbarn, we delivered a 9 percentage point sequential comparable sales improvement from our third quarter, and have fully reset the brand’s inventory position heading into Fiscal 2019. Adjusted earnings per share of 7 cents came in above our guide, and while we were pleased with progress for the quarter, it represents only the first step in our road back to realizing ascena’s full earnings potential.

Shares of Ascena Retail traded up more than 4% early Tuesday to $4.22. The consensus analyst price target is $3.38, and a 52-week trading range is $1.69 to $5.29.