Aeropostale posts 4Q loss, expects another for 1Q

NEW YORK (AP) -- Aeropostale Inc. posted a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter and said it expects another one in the current quarter. Shares fell in after-hours trading Thursday.

The teen retailer has been struggling for some time with tough competition and its fickle young shoppers. Aeropostale CEO Thomas Johnson said Thursday that results for the whole year had been disappointing. He warned that the February-April quarter remained a challenge due to Aeropostale's stock of leftover clothing that hadn't sold during the holiday shopping season and a tough economy.

Still, he said the company is making progress by updating merchandise and developing a new model for its stores.

Aeropostale's loss for the 14 weeks through Feb. 2 came to $671,000, or 1 cent per share. That's compared with net income of $26.1 million, or 32 cents per share, in the 13-week quarter the year before.

Stripping out costs for writing down the value of its stores, Aeropostale posted a per-share profit of 24 cents, down from 44 cents the year before. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting the company to earn 22 cents per share.

Revenue fell 1 percent, to $797.7 million from $808.4 million, despite the benefit of an extra week in the most recent period. Revenue from stores open at least a year, excluding its online business, decreased 9 percent. This is considered a key indicator of financial performance as it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores. Analysts predicted revenue of $779.8 million.

For the current quarter, which runs through April, Aeropostale forecast a loss of 15 to 20 cents per share. Analysts expected earnings of 8 cents per share.

"We will continue to plan our business conservatively and manage our cost structure carefully," Johnson said. "While we face near-term challenges, we believe we have the right strategies and the right team in place to improve the trajectory of our business."

The company's shares, which had already lost nearly 30 percent of their value in the past 12 months, fell 5.2 percent to $13.75 in after-hours trading. Its stock added 8 cents to close regular trading at $14.51.