Coldwater Creeks Warns on Widened Q4 Loss

Sandpoint, ID—Coldwater Creek, which has made strides in improving sales in recent quarters, said Monday that it expects its fourth quarter loss to widen more than expected due to weak holiday sales.

The specialty women’s retailer, which is presenting today at The 15th Annual ICR XChange Conference held at The Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Fla., warned that its loss could hit 70 to 80 cents a share, higher than its previous estimate of 55 to 65 cents a share. The forecast is even worse than analysts’ average estimate which predicted a 61 cents a share loss.

According to Jill Dean, recently appointed chief executive, the lower fourth quarter results were due to weak traffic in early November and early December and despite a strong showing on Black Friday.

“In response to what we believe are largely macro-economic issues impacting our customers’ shopping behavior, we were more promotional than we originally anticipated, lowering our margins, but enabling us to move through our holiday inventory,” Dean said. “As a result, we now expect to end the quarter with total inventory down in the mid- to high-single digits.”

‘Cautiously Optimistic’ on an Upside

The warning was disappointing to some retail analysts who had believed Coldwater Creek had turned a corner away from lackluster sales and six years of negative earnings.

Although Coldwater Creek attributed its latest negatives to “macroeconomic factors spooking consumers,” the company has had difficulties getting back on track while some of its competitors have seen business improve.

“In years past, Coldwater Creek executives could say that the company was a victim of the same problems that plagued the women’s apparel space,” Benzinga analysts noted today. “Companies like Coldwater Creek, Chico’s, American Apparel and now privately owned Talbots all struggled to reach their target customer.”

However, Chico’s, Ann Inc. even Talbots have made strides recently in turning around their businesses with their target consumers.

“Coldwater’s peers are finding the formula as Coldwater continues to struggle. While other stocks in the space doubled last year, Coldwater was up only 15%. It is that 15%, however, that have some analysts cautiously optimistic that there may be some upside left,” Benzinga analysts added.



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