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AE's comp store sales flat in Q2, higher cotton costs may hit Q3
Aug '11
American Eagle Outfitters Inc announced earnings for the second quarter ended July 30, 2011 of $0.10 per diluted share, compared to income from continuing operations of $0.13 per diluted share last year.

Jim O'Donnell, chief executive officer, said, “During the quarter, we achieved improved performance on the top line and EPS within our range of expectations. We managed our business prudently and made significant strides on our longer-term initiatives which are laying the foundation for future growth. Importantly, a renewed focus on our key item businesses and improved merchandising are delivering positive results, with the back-to-school season off to an encouraging start.”

Second Quarter Results – Continuing Operations
Total sales for the quarter increased 4% to $676 million, compared to $652 million last year. Second quarter comparable store sales were flat, compared to a 1% decrease last year. For additional comparable store sales information for the period, see the accompanying table.

Gross profit was $232 million, or 34.3% as a rate to sales, compared to $240 million, or 36.8% as a rate to sales, last year. Merchandise profit dollars increased slightly over last year due to lower markdowns. However, higher product costs caused a 150 basis point decline in merchandise margin. Buying, occupancy and warehousing costs increased 100 basis points as a rate to sales. This was primarily due to rent, reflecting the impact of new store openings, lease renewals and flat comparable store sales.

Selling, general and administrative expense increased 1% to $167 million, due to investments in new stores and higher sales levels, offset by continued expense saving initiatives. SG&A improved 70 basis points to 24.7% as a rate to sales, compared to 25.4% last year.

Operating income for the quarter was $29 million, compared to $38 million last year. The operating margin decreased to 4.3% from 5.9% last year.

Income from continuing operations for the quarter was $20 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, compared to $26 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, last year. As a rate to sales, income from continuing operations decreased to 2.9% from 4.0% last year.

AEO Direct
The company's direct-to-consumer business includes ae.com, aerie.com and 77kids.com. In the second quarter, sales increased 16% due to higher transactions driven by improved traffic and conversion.

Total merchandise inventories at the end of the second quarter were $470 million, an increase of $121 million, or 30% on a cost per foot basis, compared to last year. Second quarter ending inventories reflected increased cotton costs related to fall product receipts. As the company previously indicated, inventory investments support a year-round key item strategy and the expansion of the accessory business, which will grow to 400 unique shop-in-shop locations during the second half of this year. Units per foot increased 15%, including our unit-intensive accessory expansion.

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