For the quarter ended April 28, the parent of dressbarn and maurices posted net income of $49.4 million, or 31 cents a share, from $51.8 million, or 32 cents a share, a year ago.
The results included a 3 cents a share charge relating to its $890 million cash purchase of Charming Shoppes, owner of Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines Plus, a move that will expand the company’s share in the plus-sized fashion business
Net revenue rose 8% to $783.3 million, driven, the company said, by a total comparable store sales increase of 5% as well as “strong growth in sales from new stores and e-commerce. By division, dressbarn’s comp store sales rose 6% and up 8% at Justice. Maurices’ comp sales were down 1%.
‘Results In Line” Despite Challenging Marketplace
Analysts’ average estimate expected earnings of 36 cents a share on sales of $786.7 million.
Gross margin narrowed to 43.4% from 44.0% last year, hurt by increased promotional markdowns as well as higher selling and general expenses.
“Our overall financial performance in the quarter was in-line with expectations and reflects the continued challenging marketplace for retailers and consumers,” said David Jaffe, president/ceo. “Our ability to perform well despite these pressures validates the strength of our product, the loyalty of our customers and our strategy to build a compelling, diversified business. We are gratified and excited to powerfully move this strategy forward with the anticipated addition of Charming Shoppes to the Ascena portfolio of brands.”
Going forward, Ascena reaffirmed its full year forecast for earnings in the range of $1.37 to $1.40 a share “excluding the impact” of the pending Charming Shoppes acquisition which is scheduled to close in mid-June.
Analysts’ consensus expects Ascena to earn $1.39 a share for its fiscal 2012 year.