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 apparel retailer Ann Taylor
So what: For the fourth quarter, the company reported total sales of $515 million, up 10% from 2009 and right on target with analysts' estimates. Comparable-store sales jumped 11%, led by a 19.1% gain at Ann Taylor stores and strong performance at both Ann Taylor and LOFT e-commerce. Gross margins fell to 51.7% from 52.5% a year ago, but earnings per share -- excluding restructuring charges -- nearly quadrupled. The per-share profit of $0.19 also topped the $0.17 that Wall Street expected.
Now what: Reporting past results that are better than expected usually makes shareholders happy, but to really fire them up, you need to forecast future results that are higher than hoped and Ann Taylor did just that. For the first quarter and next fiscal year, the company sees total revenue of $510 million and $2.175 billion respectively, ahead of current analysts' forecasts of $488 million and $2.12 billion. And to top it all off, the company will be trying on a new look, changing the corporate name from Ann Taylor Stores to ANN to better reflect its diversified business.
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