May 21, 2014 / 3:25 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-American Eagle to shut more stores as sales remain weak

* Says to shut additional 150 stores over next 3 years

* Sees breakven/share in current quarter vs est. EPS $0.04

* Expects same-store sales to fall in high single-digit pct range

* First-quarter comparable-store sales down 10 pct

* Shares fall as much as 7 pct (Adds CEO, analysts’ comments, updates shares)

By Shailaja Sharma

May 21 (Reuters) - American Eagle Outfitters Inc forecast another quarter of falling comparable-store sales and said it would close 150 more stores in North America as it continues to struggle to attract fickle teen shoppers.

American Eagle’s shares fell as much as 7 percent to a more than 30-month low in midday trading.

The company, which targets customers aged between 15 and 25, said it expected comparable sales to decline in high single-digit percentage range in the second quarter.

American Eagle, like rivals Urban Outfitters Inc and Abercrombie & Fitch Co, has been losing out to fast-fashion retailers such as H&M and Zara, which bring in latest styles from the runway to its stores within weeks.

Buckingham Research Group analyst Jennifer Davis said American Eagle’s collection was one of the weakest among its peers and the company relied too much on its logo-centric clothes, which young shoppers are now less interested.

“Given American Eagle’s lackluster product assortment and excess inventory, we expect sales and gross margins to remain under pressure for at least the next several quarters,” Davis wrote in a note to clients.

The company will improve products, upgrade its website and release a new mobile app to revive sales, Jay Schottenstein, interim chief executive, said on a post-earnings conference call.

American Eagle operates more than 1,000 stores in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China and Hong Kong under the American Eagle and aerie brands.

The company said the 150 stores it planned to close over the next three years include nearly 100 American Eagle stores. This year alone, it plans to close about 50 American Eagle stores and 20 aerie stores. It had closed a total of 42 stores in 2013.

American Eagle’s consolidated comparable sales decreased 10 percent in the first quarter ended May 3, higher than the 7.8 percent decline expected by analysts polled by Consensus Metrix.

The company said it expected to break even on a per-share basis, excluding items, in the current quarter, missing analysts’ estimate of a 4 cent profit.

“Clearly the magnitude (of the forecast miss) is disappointing especially in an environment where other retailers have indicated improvements,” SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Capital Markets analyst Pamela Quintiliano told Reuters.

Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands Inc raised its quarterly profit forecast while Gap Inc gave a profit forecast that surpassed Wall Street expectations.

American Eagle’s net income fell 86 percent to $3.87 million, or 2 cents per share, in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected breakeven per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue fell 4.9 percent to $646.1 million, missing the average analyst estimate of $647.7 million.

American Eagle’s shares were down 6.6 percent at $10.58 in early afternoon trading. (Reporting by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Maju Samuel)

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