What happened

Shares of Carter's (CRI 0.48%) were down 12% at noon EST on Friday after the infant and children's apparel maker reported fourth-quarter results that missed analyst estimates along with first-quarter and full-year 2021 guidance that wildly undershot the consensus view.

So what

Although exclusive-brand sales to Amazon, Target, and Walmart grew 13% from the year-ago period, net sales were down 10% to $990 million even though there was an extra selling week in the quarter. That missed forecasts of $1.06 billion.

Adjusted per-share profits also declined 12% to $2.46, missing the consensus estimate of $2.73 per share. The outlook for the coming quarter and year wasn't any better.

Crying baby

Carter's investors were not happy with its latest results. Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Carter's expects first-quarter net sales to be flat with adjusted earnings of $0.25 per share, but that's far below the $0.75 per share Wall Street was looking for. Similarly, full-year net sales are expected to grow 5% to about $3.18 billion, but analysts had forecast $3.38 billion.

Profits are also forecast to underperform. Where Carter's guided toward a 10% increase to about $4.58 per share, Wall Street was again expecting better as it posited growth to $6.36 per share.

Although analysts had been looking for Carter's to have tailwinds from the pandemic, the COVID-19 outbreak is causing much more consumer turbulence than forecast, and the children's apparel maker sees its business being disrupted more than usual because of it.