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AnnTaylor raises its fiscal Q4 outlook
Feb '11
AnnTaylor Stores Corporation announced that, based upon stronger than anticipated fourth quarter sales, including positive comparable sales at both the Ann Taylor and LOFT brands, the Company expects to report top-line and bottom-line results for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2010 that will exceed the current consensus of analyst expectations and be substantially higher than the fourth quarter of 2009. The Company also expects to report substantially stronger sales and earnings for fiscal year 2010 over fiscal year 2009.

Based on preliminary results, the Company provided an update to its November 2010 outlook, as follows:

• Total Company net sales for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2010 are expected to be $515 million, compared to its previous outlook for fourth quarter sales to approach $500 million.
• Comparable sales for the fourth quarter of 2010 increased approximately 11%, as compared to the Company's prior outlook for a comparable sales increase in the mid- to high-single-digit range. By brand, comparable sales at the Ann Taylor brand increased approximately 21%, and at the LOFT brand comparable sales increased approximately 4%.
• Gross margin rate is expected to be approximately 51%, reflecting solid gross margin results at Ann Taylor, offset by a higher level of promotional activity at LOFT during the quarter.
• Selling, general and administrative expenses are expected to be in line with the Company's earlier projection of approximately $250 million for the quarter.
• An estimated fourth quarter effective tax rate of approximately 25%.
• During the fiscal fourth quarter, the Company repurchased approximately 3 million shares at a total cost of approximately $80 million, resulting in an expected total weighted average diluted share count of approximately 57 million for the fourth quarter.

Kay Krill, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are very pleased with our fourth quarter performance, driven by stronger-than-anticipated sales. Importantly, we generated positive comparable sales at both brands in each month of the quarter.

“The higher sales performance more than offset the impact of several significant weather events as well as margin pressure at LOFT and enabled us to deliver strong bottom line results and a clean inventory position at the end of the quarter. Overall, the quarter represented a solid finish to a strong fiscal 2010, with sales and earnings for the year that are substantially higher than fiscal 2009 levels."

AnnTaylor Stores Corporation

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