Investors may think that Talbots
Talbots managed to produce a narrower-than-expected fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations of $2.8 million, or $0.04 per share, compared to last year's fourth-quarter loss of $1.5 million, or $0.03 per share.
That figure may have beaten analysts' low expectations, but it remains a wider loss than last year's. Furthermore, once you factor out special items, Talbots' fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations balloons to a whopping $9.6 million, or $0.14 per share.
Total sales fell 7.4%, to $292.6 million, while same-store sales fell 7.3%. Even worse, Talbots' first-quarter sales have currently fallen 4% year over year, despite increased markdowns.
Talbots' plan to redo some stores shouldn't distract investors from its other plans to close 90 to 100 stores, and consolidate or downsize 15 to 20 others, in the next two years. Although that could boost profitability over the long term, it isn't the mark of a healthy retailer, and growing sales in an ugly environment remains a challenge.
This particular retailer has struggled to regain its fashion sense for years, to no avail. Talbots hasn't generated an annual increase in sales since the 12-month period ended January 2006.
To truly turn around, Talbots must rejuvenate its product line while competing effectively with other retailers that cater to older female shoppers, such as Ann Taylor
Meanwhile, all of these retailers face a major hurdle from the current economic outlook for Baby Boomers, who are finding it more difficult to envision comfortable retirements. And that's not even mentioning higher costs related to commodity costs like cotton, which Talbots CEO Trudy Sullivan mentioned in the press release as yet another challenge to profitability this year.
At my last check, Talbots' stock had jumped nearly 30% on these unimpressive results. Given so many negative factors, folks who slip into Talbots right now seem destined for buyer's remorse.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned; for more on this and other topics, check back at Fool.com, or follow her on Twitter: @AlyceLomax. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.