Ascena reports higher two-month comparable store sales, provides annual outlook

Ascena Retail Group, Inc, a specialty retailer offering clothing, shoes and accessories, has reported that combined comparable store and e-commerce sales for the fiscal months of November and December 2012 increased 1% on a consolidated basis. The company has also announced that, due to lower than planned holiday sales, it is lowering earnings per share guidance for its current fiscal year ending July 27, 2013.

The company further noted that its guidance is based upon various assumptions, including spring season comparable store sales increases in the range of 3% - 5% and e-commerce sales growth of approximately 25%.

For the full year, the company continues to plan to open approximately 200 stores and close approximately 125 stores, ending the fiscal year with approximately 3,900 Justice, Lane Bryant, maurices, dressbarn and Catherines stores in operation.

David Jaffe, President and CEO of Ascena Retail Group, Inc., said: "The Holiday selling season proved to be challenging and we increased promotional activity in order to ensure appropriate inventory levels going forward.

"We are taking the necessary markdowns in the second quarter to effectively transition into the spring season. As a result, we now believe full year adjusted diluted earnings per share guidance in the range of $1.20 to $1.30 is more appropriate, versus our previous guidance of $1.45 to $1.55."