Nobody's Home at Children's Place

Back in March, I discussed the wild ride for investors in Children's Place (Nasdaq: PLCE  ) . After Monday's events, those shareholders might have lost their lunches. Children's Place hit investors with a double dose of bad news, reporting a decrease in comps and announcing second-quarter losses that were much worse than had been expected.

For June, comps at Children's Place fell 4% after last year's 15% jump. This time around, the company struggled across the board, with its namesake stores reporting a 4% drop in comps and its Disney locations falling by 3%. I guess the one bit of solace for investors is that its quarterly comps were flat despite the most recent figures.

Unfortunately, the rest of the news only gets worse. As a result of its dropping sales, Children's Place lowered its earnings outlook for the second quarter. It now expects to lose $0.94 to $0.98 per share, well below analysts' expectations of a $0.59 per-share loss.

As of this writing, competitor Gymboree (Nasdaq: GYMB  ) hadn't reported its June sales, so we don't know whether this is a more substantial problem stemming from the sluggish retail environment. While it's fairly certain that the general decline in mall traffic contributed to Children's Place's poor results, the company's products certainly had an impact as well. Even the chief executive officer commented on the significant markdowns, because the stores didn't offer an assortment as focused or compelling as in previous years.  

After its stock fell nearly 12% Monday, Children's Place now trades at levels not seen in more than a year. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a value. The company is obviously having difficulties, and there's no evidence yet that a turnaround will be possible anytime soon. We already know the second quarter is one it will want to forget, but we'll have a much better indication about its ability to recover with the busy back-to-school season just around the corner. If students don't flock to its stores, it's no place I'd want to be.

For more on the kiddie retailers, check out:

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Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo welcomes feedback and doesn't own any of the companies in this article.


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