Limited Brands Q4 Profit, Sales Show Improvement

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Columbus, OH—Limited Brands, owner of Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel, reported Wednesday that consumers, who had cut back on their discretionary spending during the recession, are now gradually opening their wallets, helping the retailer’s fourth quarter results to beat forecasts. Nonetheless, the company’s first quarter and fiscal 2013 outlook disappointed analysts.

For the quarter ended Feb. 2, the specialty retailer said net income rose 14% to $411.4 million, or $1.39 a share, compared to $359.4 million, or $1.17 a share, a year ago.

The fourth quarter results included a pre-tax, non-cash charge of $93.2 million, or 31 cents a share, related to intangible asset impairment at La Senza; and a pre-tax, non-cash charge of $26.9 million, or 6 cents a share, related to store fixed asset impairment at Henri Bendel. Excluding these items, adjusted net income for the fourth quarter was $519.2 million, or $1.76 a share.

Analysts’ average estimate, which typically excludes special items, expected the company earn $1.74 per share for the fourth quarter.

Net sales for fourth quarter rose 9.7% to $3.86 billion, with comparable store sales up 5% on top of a 7% increase in the year-ago quarter.

By division, sales at Victoria’s Secret Stores & Victoria’s Secret Beauty increased 9% to $1,713.4 million, whereas comps sales were up 3%. Victoria’s Secret Direct sales rose 2.9% to $534 million. Total Victoria Secret sales grew 7.5% to $2,247.4 million. Bath & Body Works & The White Barn Candle Co.’s total sales surged 10.8% to $1,249.6 million, with a 7% increase in comps. However, comps at La Senza remained flat, whereas sales tumbled 14.2% to $102.4 million.

Looking ahead, Limited Brands management forecast first quarter 2013 earning to range 40 cents to 45 cents and $2.92 to $3.12 a share for full fiscal year 2013.

That missed analysts’ consensus which expects 51 cents a share earnings in the first quarter and $3.24 a share for full year 2013.



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