May 3, 2012
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American Eagle raises profit view, shares jump

May 3, 2012

American Eagle Outfitters Inc sharply raised its profit estimate for the latest quarter as it sold more spring clothes at full price, sending its shares up more than 9 percent.

Photo: American Eagle Outfitters

The teen clothing retailer now expects to report a profit of between 18 cents and 20 cents a share. It previously had forecast 8 cents to 10 cents.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 10 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 17 percent in the first quarter, which ended in April. The company plans to report full results on May 23.

"What makes the American Eagle Outfitters news even more interesting is that a 17 percent same-store sales (increase) was recorded while it pulled back on promotions; that is as ideal as a retailer could get," NBG Productions Chief Equities Analyst Brian Sozzi wrote in a client note.

The warm weather has been a boon for clothing retailers, especially those selling to teenagers and young adults eager to change their wardrobes for spring breaks and Easter.

Under new Chief Executive Officer Robert Hanson, American Eagle has been revamping its merchandise and supply system so it can change its clothing lines faster and keep up with its young clientele.

The retailer, whose prices are between those of high-end rival Abercrombie & Fitch Co and more affordable Aeropostale Inc, said first-quarter sales had risen 18 percent to $719 million. Analysts were expecting $653.9 million.

Morningstar analyst Jaime Katz said that while the warm weather was helping all clothing retailers, American Eagle and Aeropostale had done a better job with their merchandise than preppy rival Abercrombie.

"You're seeing some of these retailers trying to get more fashion-forward," she said. "I don't know if Aeropostale will also raise guidance or not, but they are taking better cues from their end user."

Abercrombie is "still really stuck in that traditional space" and will not get as much of a boost from the weather as the other two retailers, Katz said.

For the year, American Eagle expects to earn $1.06 to $1.12 a share, while analysts were expecting $1.07.

The retailer's shares were up 9.5 percent at $19.59 in early trading.

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