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Ascena Retail Comparable Store sales increase 4%

06
Dec '11
Ascena Retail Group Inc reported financial results for its fiscal first quarter ended October 29, 2011. On a reported basis, net income for the fiscal first quarter was $47.5 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, compared to net income of $48.0 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, for the first quarter of Fiscal 2011.

On an adjusted basis, net income increased to $51.7 million, or $0.65 per diluted share, compared to net income for last year's first quarter of $50.5 million, or $0.63 per diluted share. Adjusted results exclude items that management believes are not indicative of the Company's underlying operating performance. Reference should be made to Note 3 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this release for a discussion of the non-GAAP financial measures used in this release and for the reconciliations of such non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures.

Net sales for the fiscal first quarter increased 8% to $768.3 million, compared to $713.3 million for last year's fiscal first quarter. This overall increase was due to comparable store sales increases and new store growth at Justice and maurices, as well as continued strong growth in all e-commerce brand sales. Consolidated comparable store sales, which include stores open for at least one year, increased 4% for the fiscal first quarter.

On a reported basis, operating income for the first quarter was $76.5 million, or 10.0% of sales, compared to $77.7 million, or 10.9% of sales last year. On an adjusted basis, operating income increased 2% to $83.3 million, or 10.8% of sales, compared to $81.8 million, or 11.5% of sales last year. The decrease in adjusted operating income as a percent of sales was largely due to an increase in markdowns at dressbarn and maurices.

The Company ended the first quarter with $437.6 million in cash and investments, compared to $436.1 million in cash and investments at the end of the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2011.

The Company repurchased approximately 1.1 million shares at an aggregate cost of $28.7 million during the first quarter. Approximately $98.4 million remained available under the Company's authorized share repurchase program at the end of the first quarter.

David R. Jaffe, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ascena Retail Group, Inc., commented, “We saw continued strength in several key areas of our business during the first quarter. While the retail environment remained challenging, our consumers reacted favorably to compelling assortments at each of our brands and to a targeted marketing and promotional strategy that communicated our value proposition very effectively, which kept our inventory at proper levels. As we move into our second quarter, we remain comfortable that we will achieve our plan for the year. We also remain excited by a wide range of opportunities to drive growth in our business, value to our consumers, and returns to our shareholders.”


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