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|Ann Taylor Increases its Outlook for the First Quarter and Announces Preliminary First Quarter Sales Results|
NEW YORK, May 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AnnTaylor Stores Corporation (NYSE: ANN) today announced that it now expects earnings per diluted share for the first quarter will exceed its previous guidance range, due primarily to stronger results at LOFT and better overall expense and inventory management.
Based upon preliminary figures, the Company's net sales in the fiscal first quarter ended May 3, 2008 increased 2% to approximately $592 million, versus net sales of $580 million in the first quarter ended May 5, 2007. Comparable store sales for the quarter declined 4.3%, with the Ann Taylor division down 11.5% and the LOFT division up 0.7%.
The Company indicated that it currently expects earnings per diluted share for the quarter, excluding previously-announced restructuring costs, to be approximately $0.45-0.47, versus its previous guidance range of $0.35-0.40 per diluted share. The improvement in the Company's earnings per diluted share outlook for the quarter largely reflects stronger results at LOFT, as well as better overall expense and inventory management and the benefit of the Company's share repurchase program. The Company indicated that its inventory per square foot was down approximately 15% at the end of the quarter, with both Ann Taylor and LOFT down significantly.
Commenting on the announcement, Ann Taylor President and Chief Executive Officer Kay Krill stated, "We are very pleased with our performance in the first quarter, particularly in light of the ongoing macroeconomic softness and the challenges that virtually all consumer products companies are facing. Our two-pronged strategy to focus our resources on our core businesses and improve our cost structure is clearly the right one for these times, and we believe this focus will enable us to continue to create value for our shareholders. Furthermore, given the significant changes in the retail landscape and consumer environment over the past year, we have decided not to pursue our new concept at the present time, but we are moving forward aggressively with the launch of LOFT Outlet this summer."
Ms. Krill continued, "Despite the fact that our first quarter results are tracking ahead of our plan, and we are confident in our business strategy, we remain cautious about our outlook for the balance of the year, given the highly volatile and uncertain nature of the current economic environment. Therefore, at this juncture, as we head into the second quarter, we are maintaining our previous EPS guidance range of $1.80 to $1.90, excluding restructuring costs, for the year."
The Company will report its first quarter results on May 22, 2008.
About Ann Taylor
Ann Taylor is one of the country's leading women's specialty retailers, operating 929 stores in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and also Online Stores at www.anntaylor.com and www.anntaylorLOFT.com as of February 2, 2008.
Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The forward-looking statements may use the words "expect", "anticipate", "plan", "intend", "project", "may", "believe" and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements also include representations of the expectations or beliefs of the Company concerning future events that involve risks and uncertainties, including:
Further description of these risks and uncertainties and other important factors are set forth in the Company's latest Annual Report on Form 10-K, including but not limited to Item 1A - Risk Factors and Item 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations therein, and in the Company's other filings with the SEC. Although these forward-looking statements reflect the Company's current expectations concerning future events, actual results may differ materially from current expectations or historical results. The Company does not assume any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements at any time for any reason.
SOURCE AnnTaylor Stores Corporation 05/12/2008 CONTACT: Judith Pirro, Director, Investor Relations of Ann Taylor Stores Corporation, +1-212-541-3598 Web site: http://www.anntaylor.com http://www.anntaylorLOFT.com (ANN)