March 4, 2020 / 9:22 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Strong Aerie demand powers American Eagle quarterly beat, shares rise

(Adds details from conference call, analyst comments)

March 4 (Reuters) - American Eagle Outfitters Inc on Wednesday beat estimates for fourth-quarter results, as more shoppers bought its Aerie leggings, bras and underwear, sending the retailer’s shares up more than 6% in extended trading.

The company has been focusing on promoting a body-positive image, especially for its Aerie brand, with the launch of new styles in various sizes at affordable prices.

Aerie has been a major growth driver for the company, driven by double-digit comparable sales increases over the last three years.

The brand recently added actors Lana Condor and Ali Stroker as well as actors and writers Beanie Feldstein and Hari Nef to its Role Model campaign, as it furthers its image as an inclusive brand.

To further build on the momentum, the company said it had a “robust store opening plan for 2020” having already increased Aerie store count, including those attached to AE stores, to 322 from 164 in January 2016.

American Eagle forecast first-quarter profit between 20 cents and 22 cents per share, including a 1 cent hit from the coronavirus impact on its Hong Kong stores, largely in line with market estimates of 21 cents per share.

The company, however, said it did not expect any near-term disruptions to its supply chain from the coronavirus outbreak. It sources about 20% of its products from China.

For the first quarter, it also expects comparable sales to rise in the low single digits, while analysts were projecting a 1.07% increase.

Forrester Research retail analyst Sucharita Kodali, however, told Reuters it was not wise for any company, especially an apparel retailer, to be giving a rosy forecast, given the economic uncertainty at this moment.

Same-store sales rose 2% in the fourth-quarter ended Feb. 1, beating estimates of a 0.15% increase, driven by a 26% increase at Aerie.

Total net revenue rose 5.6% to $1.31 billion, ahead of estimates of $1.27 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding items, the company earned 37 cents per share, one cent above Wall Street expectations.

Net income, however, fell to $4.8 million, or 3 cents per share, from $76.2 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier, as the company took a pre-tax charge of $76 million, related to impairment of 20 stores and costs, including severance. (Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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