Cutting Fitch Bait

Trendy mallrat Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) is headed into the investing doghouse after it warned that it would miss its current quarter's profit targets. Yes, the same company that has kicked up its share of controversy in the past has finally found a way to do something truly offensive -- it upset Wall Street.

The company behind the Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie, and Hollister concepts reported healthy second-quarter results as earnings climbed 26% higher. Unfortunately, sales rose by just 13% as the company suffered a 5% dip in comps. That sluggish trend at the store level finds the retailer now looking for its pivotal back-to-school third-quarter period to come in flat with last year's bottom-line showing. The company earned $0.51 a share last year while analysts were hanging their hopes closer to the $0.59 mark.

Just as goth-haven Hot Topic (Nasdaq: HOTT  ) suffered earlier this summer by expanding its flagship chain as its same-store sales were waning, one has to pay close attention to comps. It's never a perfect gauge. High comps can be deceiving, as a huge clearance sale to clear out low-margin inventory might bump up sales at the store level while earnings suffer. However, there are few excuses when comps run low.

It's also fair to say that if you are slumping at the register in the spring, then the weakness is likely to follow into the crucial back-to-school selling season by summer's end. Some specialty retailers like Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO  ) and American Eagle Outfitters (Nasdaq: AEOS  ) have fared well in posting double-digit growth in same-store sales last month, and it would be a real shock to see those concepts disappoint in the near term.

So Abercrombie & Fitch, always willing to give Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN  ) a run for the chance to offend grown-ups in pandering to its young target market, has done it again. This time it has done so with numbers.

Have you been offended by Abercrombie's magalogs, or is it what's hanging on the rack that turns you off? Which specialty retailers are putting out the clothing that you want to wear? All this and more in the What to Wear? discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz was never in a boy band singing about girls who wear Abercrombie & Fitch. He does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.


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