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What: Shares of Express (NYSE:EXPR) were getting put on the discount rack today, falling as much as 14% after a disappointing fourth-quarter earnings report.

So what: The fashion retailer missed on both and top and bottom lines, posting earnings of $0.57 per share, short of estimates at $0.59 and down from $0.75 a year ago, while revenue slipped 2.2% to $715.8 million, worse than the consensus at $721.5 million. In perhaps a singular bright spot, comparable sales increased 1% as Q4 2012 had an extra week in the calendar. CEO Michael Weiss called the results "disappointing" and blamed the heavy promotional environment for the decline in profits. 

Now what: Even worse was Express' outlook for 2014, as Weiss said that the beginning of the year had been "extremely difficult, with traffic down significantly, negative comparable sales and the promotional environment remaining intense." For the full year, Express expects profit for the year to shrink to $1.03-$1.23, down from $1.37 last year and far worse than estimates of $1.58. Shares hit a 52-week low on the news, which, coming at a time when the broad market is near record highs, goes to show the company's woes didn't start today. Fashion is a fickle business, and Express seems like it needs a new strategy to turn things around. Shares are cheap, though, and could easily rebound if the retailer shows some improvement.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.