August 26, 2010 / 8:15 PM / 9 years ago

REFILE-UPDATE 2-J Crew's cuts 2010 outlook, shares plunge

(Refiles to fix headline to J Crew, not J Crew’s, correct spelling in paragraph 4 to expectation)

* Q2 EPS 53 cents

* Q2 sales up 14 pct

* Sees 2010 EPS $2.25 to $2.35, below view of $2.46

* Shares tumble 8 percent (Recasts with lower-than-expected forecasts; adds comparisons, background; updates shares; adds byline)

By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO, August 26 (Reuters) - U.S. clothing retailer J Crew Group Inc JCG.N posted earnings outlooks for the third quarter and full year that were below expectations, and its shares tumbled 8 percent.

Although J Crew reported robust quarterly profit and sales growth for the second quarter on Thursday, it cited economic uncertainty in lowering its forecast for the full year.

J Crew forecast 2010 earnings of $2.25 to $2.35 per share, a range below Wall Street’s target of $2.46. J Crew’s previous 2010 profit outlook was $2.35 to $2.45.

Similarly, for the third quarter, J Crew said it expects earnings between 55 cents and 60 cents a share — well below Wall Street’s expectation of 71 cents.

“The continued economic uncertainty that we’re all seeing is leading us to take a more conservative outlook for the back half of the year,” Chief Executive Millard Drexler told analysts on a call.

The retailer, which sells upscale women’s and men’s apparel, accessories and shoes, has enjoyed strong momentum in recent months, outperforming most competitors.

The operator of 246 retail stores and 81 outlet stores in the United States has managed to sell most goods at full price without crimping profit margins, and analysts have credited their products as more attractive to current shoppers than rivals’ offerings.

Most U.S. retailers have struggled this summer amid inconsistent sales and an increasingly promotional environment as shoppers have become more selective about purchases.

J Crew also goes up against difficult same-store sales comparisons in the second half of the year.

In its second quarter, J Crew posted an 88 percent rise in net profit to $34.9 million, or 53 cents per share, from $18.6 million, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding a benefit for recognition of forfeited share-based compensation for a recently resigned executive, the company earned 50 cents per share, above the 46 cents per share expected, on average, by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 14 percent in the quarter to $407.5 million, helped by an 11 percent same-store sales rise. J Crew’s catalog and Web business rose 16 percent.

Shares fell 8 percent to $30.80 after closing at $33.43 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Alexandria Sage, editing by Leslie Gevirtz, Gary Hill)

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