Ann shares rise on strong 4Q results, outlook

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Ann Inc. jumped 7 percent Friday after the women's clothing retailer announced a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and a strong sales guidance for the current quarter and full year.

For the quarter ended Feb. 2, Ann earned $2.4 million, or 5 cents per share, up 9 percent from $2.2 million, or 4 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $607.7 million from $566.7 million, as sales at Ann Taylor brand stores rose 7 percent to $255 million and sales at Loft brand stores increased 7 percent to $352.7 million.

The profit beat Wall Street predictions, while the revenue was roughly in line with them. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 1 cent per share on $608 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

The company said its revenue at stores open at least a year fell 0.7 percent for the quarter. The drop included a 1.4 percent increase at the Ann Taylor brand and a 6.8 percent drop at the Loft brand.

The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes revenue from stores that recently opened or closed.

For the first quarter, Ann projected $600 million in sales on a "low-single-digit increase" in revenue at stores open at least a year. For the full year, the company said it expects $2.57 billion in sales on a "mid-single-digit increase" in revenue at stores open at least a year.

Analysts expect $596.1 million in first-quarter sales and $2.51 billion in 2013 sales.