Aeropostale Inc (ARO)

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Aeropostale Inc. (ARO)

Q4 2008 Earnings Call

March 12, 2009; 4:15 pm ET


Julian Geiger - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Mindy Meads - President and Chief Merchandising Officer

Michael Cunningham - Chief Financial Officer

Tom Johnson - Chief Operating Officer

Ken Ohashi - Vice President of Investor & Media Relations


Betty Chen - Wedbush Morgan

Christine Chen - Needham & Company

Edward Yruma - KeyBanc

Michelle Tan - Goldman Sachs

Roxanne Meyer - UBS

Dana Telsey - Telsey Advisory Group

Adrienne Tennant - FBR Capital Markets

Stacy Pak - SP Research

Jeff Klinefelter - Piper Jaffray

Laura Champine - Cowen & Co.

Lorraine Hutchinson - Banc of America

Janet Kloppenburg - JJK Research

Kimberly Greenberger - Citi

Linda Tsai - MKM Partners

Richard Jaffe- Stifel Nicolaus

Marni Shapiro - The Retail Tracker

Robin Murchinson - Suntrust Robinson Humphrey

Josh Goldman - Barclays Capital

David Glick - Buckingham Research

Howard Tubin - RBC Capital Markets



Thank you for joining us for this Aeropostale conference call to review fourth quarter fiscal 2008 financial results. At this time, all parties are in a listen-only mode. Following the management presentation, we’ll conduct a question-and-answer session. Instructions will be provided at that time for you to queue up for questions. (Operator Instructions)

I would like to remind everyone that this conference call is being recorded and I would like to introduce Mr. Ken Ohashi, the company’s Vice President of Investor & Media Relations.

Ken Ohashi

Thank you all for joining us this afternoon. With me here today are Julian Geiger, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mindy Meads, our President and Chief Merchandising Officer, Tom Johnson, our Chief Operating Officer and Michael Cunningham, our Chief Financial Officer. We issued a press release earlier this afternoon announcing our fourth quarter and fiscal 2008, financial results. A copy of the release can be found on our corporate website.

Before we begin, I would like to remind you that during this earnings conference call, certain statements and responses to questions may contain forward-looking information such as forecasts of future financial performance. Forward-looking information and statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause our actual results and future periods to differ materially from our forecasted results.

Those risks are described in our annual report on Form 10-K and our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, all of which have been filed with the SEC and are available on our website. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances. Listeners of this call are referred to those filings. Before I turn the call over to Julian, I would like to remind everyone to limit themselves to one question during our Q and A session to allow everyone to speak.

I would now like to turn the call over to Julian.

Julian Geiger

Thanks, Ken. Good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us today. All of us at Aeropostale are extremely pleased with our record results for both the fourth quarter and fiscal 2008. While the results would be impressive in any economic climate, they are truly extraordinary given the uncertain and challenging times and which we are operated.

Our performance underscores the vitality of the Aeropostale brand, the strength of our operating model and our ability to understand the team customers. Let me take you through some of the financial highlights of both the quarter and the year. During Q4 our net sales increased 17% to $690 million and our same-store sales increased 6% compared to a 9% increased last year.

Total net sales from our e-commerce business increased 88% to $41 million and earnings per share grew 6% to a record $1.01 per share from $0.95 per share last year. For the full year, net sales increased 19% to almost $1.9 billion. Total net sales from our e-commerce business increased 85% to $79 million. Same-store sales for the year increased 8% compared to a 3% increase last year.

Marking our 11 consecutive year of positive same-store sales and earnings per share reached $2.21, a 28% increased over earnings of $1.73 per share last year. A year ago at this time, we clearly outlined our strategic initiatives for the upcoming year. We are very pleased that the manner in which we executed each of these initiatives.

As you may remember, these initiatives included listening to our customer, maintaining a fresh and balanced merchandise assortment, delivering compelling values, creating a climate and exciting shopping experience through a preplanned promotion and innovative marketing programs focusing on inventory management, maintaining a strong balance sheet and managing costs effectively, developing our new concepts and continuing our expansion by opening 89 Aeropostale stores in North America, all of them in our New architectural format.

Our consistent performance throughout the year indicates that we have been successful in achieving these objectives. As a result, our brand had never been stronger and we are well positioned to continue to gain additional market share. I’m very proud of the entire organization’s dedication, determination and expertise.

Before I turn the call over to Mindy, I want to comment briefly on Jimmy’Z. As you all know we made the difficult decision last month to close the concept. Once again I would like to thank the entire Jimmy’Z organization for its hard work, commitment and dedication to the brand.

Now I would like to turn the call over to Mindy, who will take you through some of the merchandising highlights from the fourth quarter.

Mindy Meads

Thank you, Julian. I too would like to reiterate how pleased I’m with the record results for both the fourth quarter and full year. During the important holiday season, we continue to experience strong brand momentum by offering the customer, the best combination of fashion and value. The entire product development team did an excellent job identifying evolving trends and product details that are happening in the marketplace and marking them relevant to the teams customer.

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