Shares of American Apparel Inc. (APP) gapped up 14% and kept rising after the retailer reported a turnaround profit in the fourth quarter. Net income weighed in at $4.9 million, or $0.04 per share, compared with a net loss of $0.11 per share in Q4 2011. While the company saw broad-based gains across all business segments, the real boost came from online sales, which jumped 42% year-over-year. So net sales also climbed 10% to $173.03 million. In the past two trading days, the stock has surged 31%. But with analysts forecasting 6% sales growth and nearly 26% earnings growth for 2013 (compared with the 18% industry average), I see further upside. APP is a B-rated buy.
The Bad (At First Take)
American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), on the other hand, fell over 10% today after missing Q4 estimates and releasing a weaker outlook for this quarter. The company has found that mall traffic has been tapering off, so it is in the process of trimming its underperforming stores. So while the company grew earnings by 58%, American Eagle’s $0.55 earnings per share just missed the consensus estimate by 2%. Meanwhile, net sales climbed 9% to $1.12 billion. Looking ahead to the first quarter, American Eagle forecasts negative mid-single digit same-store sales growth.
Even so, there is a silver lining. Shares of AEO had rallied on Tuesday, so today’s pullback could be chalked up to profit taking. After all, American Eagle’s 2013 prospects remain bright: Analysts still forecast 10% top-line and 63% bottom-line growth for 2013. And I must mention that American Eagle has also launched a 20 million share repurchase program and hiked up its quarterly dividend by 14% to $0.125. So AEO is also a B-rated buy.
But the real disappointment came from Maidenform Brands Inc. (MFB), which also gapped down nearly 10%. But there’s not a chance that this was profit taking. Maidenform, which sells intimate apparel, announced that increased competition and weak consumer trends made 2012 a “disappointing year.” Even so, the fourth-quarter results were largely positive. Compared with Q4 2011, net sales climbed 9% to $135.1 million. Analysts had forecast $133.3 million in sales, so Maidenform posted a modest sales surprise. The company also posted earnings of $0.24 per share, which topped the consensus estimate by 9%.
But what really had investors spooked was the company’s first-quarter outlook, which calls for a $20 million drop in sales and a loss in the range of $0.05 to $0.10 per share. On top of this, the company expects sales to decline 1% to 4% and earnings to fall 9% to 16%. While management alleges that 2013 will be a transition year, we won’t see a turnaround for quite some time. MFB is a D-rated sell.
More Apparel Earnings To Come
Looking ahead to the rest of the week, there are four more footwear and apparel companies reporting earnings:
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But with the exception of Footlocker Inc. (FL), I recommend that you “hold the phone” on these stocks.