Columbus, OH—Limited Brands, parent to Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel, reported Wednesday a first quarter profit that beat expectations. However, sales of the company fell in trading after its second quarter forecast was below market expectations.
For the quarter ended April 28, Limited Brands posted a net profit of $124.6 million, or 41 cents a share, down from $165.2 million, or 50 cents a share, in the same period 2011 when it had a 10-cent a share gain due to special one-time gains. Analysts’ average estimate expected earnings of 40 cents a share.
Net sales slipped 1.9% to $2.15 billion. Comparable store sales rose 7%. Gross margin expanded 390 basis points to 41.9%.
By division, Victoria’s Secret Stores & Victoria’s Secret Beauty reported a 10% increase in sales to $1.08 billion, with a comparable store gain of 9%. Victoria’s Secret Direct sales jumped 4% to $382 million. However, comps at La Senza edged down 1%. Total Victoria Secret sales grew 8% to $1.470 billion driven by a 9% rise in comps. Bath & Body Works & The White Barn Candle Co.’s had a 6% increase in comps.
Limited said it expects a profit of 40 to 45 cents a share in its second quarter, below analysts’ average estimate for 50 cents a share.
However, the company, which has been outperforming other retailers over the last year, typically gives a conservative guidance, retail analysts noted.