Dress Barn lifts fiscal 2010 profit forecast for second time in nearly a month

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dress Barn raises fiscal 2010 profit outlook again

SUFFERN, N.Y. — Dress Barn Inc. boosted its fiscal 2010 profit forecast for the second time in nearly a month on Monday, citing better-than-expected holiday sales.

The women’s apparel retailer, whose brands include maurices and its namesake, now expects earnings in a range of $1.40 to $1.50 per share. Prior guidance was for profit between $1.35 and $1.45 per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, whose estimates typically exclude one-time items, anticipate full-year earnings of $1.43 per share.

Last month Dress Barn lifted its 2010 profit outlook on its better-than-expected results for the year to date.

The company said its most recent revision to the full-year forecast was related to the strong performance of Justice stores during the holidays and tight inventory management. Dress Barn closed on its deal to buy Tween Brands Inc., former owner of the Justice brand, in November. Justice stores’ offerings are aimed at children between ages 7 and 14. It now runs as a Dress Barn subsidiary.

The retailer said holiday sales at stores open at least a year climbed 10 percent, with sales at its namesake stores and maurices rising 3 percent each. Sales at Justice stores open at least a year increased 17 percent for the period from Black Friday to the Saturday after New Year’s Day.

That sales figure is a key indicator of retailer performance, since it measures growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones.

The holiday season is a crucial time for many retailers as it often makes up a significant portion of yearly sales.

Dress Barn operated 837 namesake stores, 741 maurices stores and 906 Justice stores as of Jan. 8.

The company’s stock fell 77 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $24.15 in midday trading. It hit a new 52-week high of $25.50 earlier in the session.

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