May 20, 2009
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AnnTaylor 1st-qtr results top Wall Street view

May 20, 2009

Ann Taylor Spring 2009

The operator of the Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor LOFT chains said it expects sales to remain "under significant pressure," especially at Ann Taylor, given the recession and "the particular impact it has had on the aspirational luxury sector and professional working women."

AnnTaylor posted a net loss of $2.3 million, or 4 cents per share, for the first quarter, ended May 2, compared with a net profit of $25.9 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of 11 cents per share. The retailer said last week that its loss per share would be much smaller than the 24 cents analysts had then been expecting.

Net sales dropped 27.9 percent to $426.7 million, below analysts' estimate of $454.0 million. Same-store sales fell 30.7 percent, with a 42.7 percent drop at the Ann Taylor chain, which sells clothes professional women can wear to work, and a 24.2 percent decline at the less expensive and more casual LOFT chain.

The company said it expects "only modest improvement" in its second-quarter sales trends, while its gross margin rate will be flat with the year-earlier period.

AnnTaylor also said it expects second-quarter general and administrative expenses of $245 million.

The company said it expects to open 14 new stores this year and close 37 stores, for a total square footage decline of 2 percent by the end of the year.

AnnTaylor shares were down 25 cents, or 2.9 percent, at $8.70 in premarket trade. (Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace)

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