Why Abercrombie & Fitch Is Soaring After Earnings Report

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Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) reported third-quarter fiscal 2018 results before markets opened Thursday. The specialty retailer posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.33 on net sales of $861.2 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.30 and revenues of $859.1 million. Third-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $0.20 and $852.97 million in revenues.

To call the results a blowout might be an understatement. Shares popped more than 20% in Thursday’s premarket trading, but that may have been due more to looking ahead rather than looking back, even though the rear-view mirror shows a pretty nice picture.

In its fourth-quarter outlook, A&F said it expects net sales to be down by mid-single digits year over year, largely due to one less week in the quarter and a strong dollar. Same-store sales are forecast up in the low single digits, well above analysts’ consensus call for a rise of 0.6%. Gross margins are forecast up “slightly” and operating expenses are seen down 1% to 2%.

Same-store sales rose 3% in the third quarter, led by a 4% jump at A&F’s Hollister stores. U.S. same-store sales jumped 6% while international sales were down 3%.

CEO Fran Horowitz said:

We are pleased with our third quarter performance, our fifth consecutive quarter of positive comparable sales, with growth across both of our brands. We delivered 3% comparable sales growth on top of 4% last year, with continued gross profit rate stabilization. Our strong U.S omnichannel business, and 16% global digital sales growth, confirm that our playbooks are working.

The consensus analyst estimate for fourth-quarter EPS is $1.10 on revenue of $1.14 billion. For the full 2018 fiscal year, analysts are looking for EPS of $0.81 and sales of $3.56 billion.

A&F is forecasting full-year net sales up 2% to 4%, compared to the analyst consensus for a 1.9% increase. Same-store sales are forecast to rise in the same range and gross profit rate is set to rise “slightly” from last year’s 59.7% rate.

The company also expects to deliver about 70 “new store experiences” in the current fiscal year, including new store prototypes, remodeled stores and “right-sizes.” A&F also expects to close about 20 fewer stores than its original forecast of up to 60 closures due to improved performance and renegotiated leases.

Investors have pushed shares up just over 20% (up $3.48 per share) this morning to $20.60, in a 52-week range of $15.28 to $29.69. The 12-month consensus price target was $20.08 before this morning’s report.