American Eagle Outfitters Inc (AEO.N) forecast a much lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, joining rivals Abercrombie & Fitch Co (ANF.N) and Gap Inc (GPS.N) in flagging a tough climate for retailers in the crucial holiday shopping season.
The teen apparel retailer's shares sank 15.1 percent to $16.06 in morning trading on Wednesday.
American Eagle also forecast comparable sales to be flat or increase in the low single digits in the fourth quarter compared with a 4 percent rise in the year-earlier period.
"The retail climate, particularly in malls, is tough and the pace of traffic is choppy. We're therefore taking a cautious view," Chief Financial Officer Bob Madore said on a conference call.
The company forecast fourth-quarter adjusted profit of 37-39 cents per share, well below analysts' average estimate of 45 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The American Eagle brand ran earlier and deeper promotions during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Wolfe Research analyst Adrienne Yih wrote in a note. "We believe AEO will continue to run elevated promotions throughout 4Q16 to drive traffic but will result in lower quality sales."
Abercrombie said last week it expected holiday-quarter sales to be challenging, while Gap forecast a further drop in traffic during the period, raising concerns that apparel retailers were in for another tough holiday season as fewer shoppers visit malls and continue to spend less on clothes.
Comparable sales of American Eagle's Aerie brand, which sells intimate apparel and personal care products for women, rose 21 percent in the third quarter ended Oct. 29, beating the average analyst estimate of a 17.4 percent rise, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.
"Aerie continues to post positive same-store sales. However, the American Eagle brand is so much larger and in that concept decelerates the (positive) impact on the comps," Simeon Siegel, retail analyst at Instinet Equity Research said.
American Eagle reported a smaller-than-expected 2 percent rise in quarterly comparable sales amid a "tough retail climate." Analysts on average expected a 2.9 percent rise.
Net revenue rose 2.34 percent to $940.6 million, in line with the average analyst estimate.
American Eagle's net profit rose to $75.76 million, or 41 cents per share, from $74.11 million, or 38 cents per share, a year earlier.
(This story was refiled to correct analyst's surname in paragraph 9 to Siegel from Sigel)
(Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan; Editing by Martina D'Couto)