* Expects Q4 EPS ex-items 8-11 cents; Street view 11 cents
* Shares down 6.8 pct (Adds analyst comment, byline, updates stock action)
By Ben Klayman
CHICAGO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Retailer Jones Apparel Group Inc JNY.N reported a preliminary fourth-quarter profit that could be below analysts’ current expectations, sending its shares down nearly 7 percent on Thursday.
The owner of the Nine West and Jones New York brands said it expected to report fourth-quarter earnings of 8 cents to 11 cents per share, excluding one-time items. The analysts’ average forecast is 11 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“This was a bit of a surprise,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer with Solaris Asset Management. “The whisper out there was they might beat consensus.”
Ghriskey said his firm did not hold Jones shares, but had owned them in the past and still follows the company closely.
For the year, the company expects earnings, excluding one-time items, of $1.11 to $1.14 a share. Jones is scheduled to report final fourth-quarter and full-year results on Feb. 10.
“While we continue to note positive signs of economic recovery, we are maintaining a cautious and disciplined approach to execution as the environment remains uncertain,” Chief Executive Wesley Card said in a statement.
He said fourth-quarter results had improved from a year earlier because of a less promotional environment during the holiday shopping season. He said the company ended the year with $330 million in cash on hand, significantly more than it expected.
Including impairment and restructuring charges, Jones expects to report a fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations of $1.53 to $1.56 a share, and a full-year loss of $1.02 to $1.05.
Jones, whose brands also include Enzo Angiolini and Anne Klein, said it expected fourth-quarter and full-year results to include a pretax, noncash charge of about $150 million for goodwill and trademark impairment.
It also said it had closed 99 stores to date and was on track to close a total of about 265, with the remaining closures to occur throughout the year.
It expects to report a profit on an adjusted basis in its retail segment for the fourth quarter.
Shares of Jones fell $1.04, or 6.8 percent, to $14.29 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Ben Klayman; editing by John Wallace and Lisa Von Ahn)