* Profit before items 14 cents/share vs Street view 7 cents
* 4th-quarter U.S. retail revenue down 6.6 percent
* Gross margin falls 1.2 points to 34.6 percent
Feb 13 Jones Group Inc, the fashion
company behind such brands as Nine West and Jones New York,
reported a higher-than-expected profit for the holiday quarter
on Wednesday as sales of its shoes and jeans to U.S. department
stores picked up.
Fourth-quarter revenue rose 8.8 percent to $971.9 million,
more than the $955.3 million Wall Street was expecting,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
For 2013, Jones forecast revenue of between $3.9 billion and
$4.1 billion, an increase of 2.6 percent to 10.8 percent over
2012. That compares with analysts' estimates of $3.88 billion.
The company expects the biggest gains to come in its U.S.
Jones, which in recent years has benefited from its shift to
higher-end brands with the acquisition of names such as Stuart
Weitzman and Kurt Geiger, will continue to focus on building its
upscale offerings in 2013, Chief Executive Officer Wesley Card
said in a statement.
Kurt Geiger was Jones' fastest-growing brand last year. Its
revenue rose 52.5 percent to $305 million last year.
But sales fell for the company's two biggest brands, Nine
West and Jones New York, which together account for two-fifths
of total business.
Jones' own U.S. stores continued to struggle, with revenue
down 6.6 percent in the quarter. The company warned in October
that it would be a tough holiday season for its stores, given
how aggressive competitors would be in offering deals and
Gross margin fell 1.2 percentage points to 34.6 percent of
sales in the quarter. The company said that as part of its
efforts to improve margins, it would be careful about building
up too much inventory in 2013.
Jones, which gets nearly half of its revenue by selling to
chains like Macy's Inc and Nordstrom Inc, said
jeans sales to U.S. retailers rose 6.8 percent, while shoe sales
were up 5.5 percent.
The company's fourth-quarter net loss deepened to $80.1
million, or $1.06 per share, from $8.2 million, or 27 cents per
share, a year earlier.
Excluding restructuring and other costs, Jones earned 14
cents per share, beating the 7 cents analysts were projecting.