Justice Boosts Dress Barn Q4 Profit

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Suffern, NY–Dress Barn Inc.’s fiscal fourth-quarter profit jumped 64% as the women’s apparel retailer benefited from the inclusion of sales at its Justice brand, the teen-oriented retail chain it acquired last year.

The retailer reported Wednesday that it earned $42 million, or 52 cents per share, for the quarter that ended July 31. That’s up from $25.6 million, or 40 cents per share in the same quarter of last year. Excluding one-time items, the company earned 47 cents per share, versus 38 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts’ average estimates were for 49 cents per share on revenue of $698.8 million. Gross margin widened to 41% from 40.3%.

David Jaffe, president and ceo, said  the company’s performance for the early fall period has been good overall. “We are pleased to see continuing momentum in our businesses, particularly with our Maurices and Justice concepts during the key back-to-school retailing season.”

 Name to Change

While retail analysts were surprised by the company’s purchases of Tween Brands and its Justice chain last year since the company’s emphasis shifted from its namesake Dress Barn which caters to professional women, and Maurices which is positioned to young women. That shift has led Dress Barn to announce last month it plans to seek shareholder approval to change the name of its company. If approved December 8, Dress Barn’s name would be changed to Ascena Retail Group Inc.

In August, Dress Barn reported sales surged 78% to $710.9 million, and grew 17% excluding Justice’s sales which hit $246.6 million. . Revenue at Dress Barn stores rose 11% to $282.3 million, and revenue at Maurices grew 26 percent to $183.0 million. Overall, same-store sales improved 7%.

For the full year, which also included an extra week, Dress Barn earned $133.4 million, or $1.73 per share, on revenue of $2.4 billion. The previous fiscal year, which ended July 25, 2009, it earned $66.6 million, or $1.06 per share, on revenue of $1.5 billion.

Looking Ahead

The company sees earnings for the new year of $2.05 to $2.15 a share, compared with the $2.08 projected by analysts. It also projected a low- to mid-single-digit increase in same-store sales.

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