Suffern, NY—Buoyed by online sales and improved gross margin, Ascena Retail Group reported Monday that its fourth quarter profit tripled, beating analysts’ estimates.
For the quarter ended July 27, the owner of dressbarn, Lane Bryant, Justice and Catherines posted net income of $38.3 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with $11.2 million, or 7 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, adjusted income was 34 cents a share, ahead of analysts’ average estimate for 20 cents a share.
Net sales rose 27% to $1.2 billion while analysts’ expected $1.16 million in sales. Comparable store sales, which included a full quarter of Lane Bryant and Catherines stores , rose 2% excluding online sales with Justice, Lane Bryant and Catherines offsetting a decline at dressbarn.
E-commerce comp sales jumped 30%.
Gross margin widened to 56.1% from 53.4% thanks to fewer markdowns at dressbarn and Catherines.
Looking ahead, Ascena forecast its fiscal full-year profit would be between $1.25 to $1.30 a share, compared with analysts’ consensus for $1.36 a share. Comparable sales are expected to increase in low-single digits.
“As we head into fiscal 2014, we expect macro-economic factors to continue to pressure the apparel industry,” CEO David Jaffe said.