Why Express, Inc. Shares Tumbled

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Express  (NYSE: EXPR  ) were getting hammered today, falling as much as 13% after another disappointing earnings report.

So what: This was the third straight earnings miss for the apparel chain, and comparable sales sank 11% in the quarter, two significant signs of structural weakness. CEO Michael Weiss said the company had anticipated a "very challenging" quarter, but results were actually weaker than expected. Overall sales fell 10% to $460.7 million, missing estimates of 464.1 million, while profits shrank from $0.38 per share a year ago to just $0.06, below expectations of $0.14.

Now what: Fashion tastes are fickle and Express seems to have become a victim of changing consumer demand. Excessive inventory is also hurting the company, reflected in its profit guidance for the current quarter at just breakeven, versus the analyst estimate at $0.12. Full-year guidance was better as management expects a stronger second half, but it was also significantly below expectations. Like other struggling clothing retailers, there's no easy fix for Express's problems. Still, the company remains profitable and sees promise in its factory outlet stores. While I wouldn't invest in a company with double-digit same-store sales declines, I'd give management a few more quarters to stop the bleeding before closing the book on Express.

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