Suffern retailer drops projected earnings

Weaker-than-expected holiday sales are causing the Suffern-based Ascena Retail Group, the owner of various retail clothing brands including Lane Bryant, Justice and Dress Barn, to cut its fiscal 2014 adjusted earnings forecast. The company dropped its new full-year adjusted earnings 15 cents per share from $1.25 to $1.30 to between $1.10 and $1.15. Its stock closed yesterday at $20.36, down $1.58.

Through its subsidiaries, the company operates several thousand stores throughout the US and Canada, with annual revenues of more than $4.5 billion. In a statement Monday, company president and CEO David Jaffe called the holiday selling season “challenging” but noted that the company “successfully cleared excess inventory and has taken the necessary markdowns in the second quarter to transition cleanly into the spring season.” In the statement, the company was optimistic about increases in spring season comparable store sales and continued double-digit e-commerce sales growth. In 2014, the company plans to open 185 stores and close 135, ending the fiscal year with around 3,900 stores in operation.

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