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Strong sales momentum at the Ann Taylor Brand
Aug '10
Ann Taylor Stores Corporation reported results for the fiscal second quarter ended July 31, 2010, and commented on its outlook for the third quarter and fiscal year 2010.

For the second quarter of 2010, the Company reported earnings per diluted share of $0.32, excluding after-tax restructuring charges totaling approximately $0.01 per share, compared with earnings per diluted share of $0.06 in the second quarter of 2009, excluding after-tax restructuring charges totaling $0.38 per share. On a GAAP basis, including the aforementioned restructuring charges, earnings per diluted share were $0.31 in the second quarter of 2010, compared with a loss per diluted share of ($0.32) in the second quarter of 2009.

Kay Krill, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "The Company generated substantially stronger earnings for the second quarter, including a more than fivefold increase in operating profit, excluding restructuring charges, when compared with the second quarter of 2009. Significantly higher sales and gross margin rate at the Ann Taylor brand drove the increase.

"Specifically, the Ann Taylor brand delivered an excellent quarter as momentum continued to build since the brand's evolution began in Fall 2009. Comparable sales at the brand of more than 15% -- including approximately 20% at Ann Taylor stores -- underscore the strong client response to our product and the positive impact of our marketing initiatives. The brand continues to perform extremely well as we enter the third quarter.

“At the LOFT brand, results were mixed, reflecting some sales softness in the stores channel related to select product categories. LOFT's e-commerce and outlet channels, however, delivered very strong top-line performance, and all channels at the brand delivered solid gross margin results. Importantly, both Ann Taylor and LOFT have entered the third quarter with clean inventories at levels that, we believe, position the Company for profitable top-line growth."

In commenting on the Company's financial strength, Ms. Krill noted that the Company ended the fiscal second quarter with cash on hand of more than $260 million, approximately double the cash excluding the revolver, that it had at the same period last year. The Company has no bank debt.

"We remain firmly committed to using our strong balance sheet and free cash flow to further enhance shareholder value and, as such, I am pleased to report that our Board has voted to expand our existing share repurchase authorization to $400 million, resulting in nearly $260 million currently available under the authorization to repurchase our shares," she said.

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Ann Taylor Stores Corporation

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