We retain our long term 'Outperform' recommendation on the
Pennsylvania-based fashion retailer,
American Eagle Outfitters Inc.
) as the company continues to demonstrate solid top-line
performance coupled with lower input and operating costs. We also
remain impressed by the company's excellent financial power with
lower debt levels, good capital allocation and solid cash flows,
which continues to drive a brilliant stock performance.
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The company's consistent earnings performance is encouraging, as it
has continually met or beat forecasts in the past several quarters.
American Eagle's earnings of 21cents per share for second-quarter
2012 surged nearly 62% from the year-ago period, and came in line
with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. In the quarter, the company's
adjusted net sales went up 11% year over year to $739.7 million,
beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $738 million.
On the back of robust second quarter results, management raised its
fiscal 2012 earnings guidance range to $1.33 - $1.36 per share from
$1.16 - $1.22 forecasted earlier. The improved guidance range is
based on the company s expectation of mid-single-digit and low-sing
digit growth in comparable store sales for the third and fourth
quarter of fiscal 2012. For third quarter 2012, the company expects
earnings to be in the range of 37 cents - 38 cents per share
compared with 30 cents in the prior-year period.
Looking ahead, we believe the company's continued momentum in denim
along with improved merchandise assortments in the women's business
segment will likely augment its top-line performance and enhance
gross margin. Additionally, we believe the company's cost-saving
initiatives and long-term growth strategy will not only provide
financial flexibility, but will also help drive value proposition.
Moreover, the company's strong portfolio of well established
brands, each of which is focused on the unique characteristics and
rapidly changing preferences of customers make American Eagle a
leading specialty retailer of fashionable and stylish apparels and
accessories in the United States and Canada.
As a strategy, the company remains committed to enhance store sales
productivity by increasing focus on its merchandise assortments,
adding more compelling brands, managing inventory level much
diligently and augmenting e-commerce business, while simultaneously
shutting down underperforming stores. In order to emphasize more on
core business and generate the best possible return for
shareholders, American Eagle is moving ahead with its plans to exit
its children's brand - 77Kids.
Nevertheless, operating in the highly fragmented specialty retail
sector, American Eagle faces intense competition from other
teen-focused retailers, such as A
bercrombie & Fitch Co.
). Currently, the company carries a Zacks #1 Rank, which translates
into a short-term Strong Buy rating, in sync with our long-term