Limited Brands Inc . ( LTD ), a specialty retailer of women's intimate and other apparel, beauty and personal care products, posted better-than-expected comparable-store sales results for the five-week period ended June 30, 2012. The increase resulted from strong sales at its Victoria's Secret Stores.
Limited Brands, owner of Victoria's Secret Direct and La Senza chains, has sustained its growth momentum. The company's comparable-store sales for June 2012 rose 7% compared with a 12% increase in June 2011.
Comparable-store sales for June increased 11% at Victoria's Secret Stores & Victoria's Secret Beauty and 2% at Bath & Body Works & The White Barn Candle Co. and at La Senza, respectively. Sales at Victoria's Secret Direct increased 11%.
Limited Brands, which competes with Hanesbrands Inc. ( HBI ), announced that net sales for June fell marginally to $1,077 million from $1,080 million posted in the comparable prior-year month. The prior-year period sales included $80 million from a third-party apparel sourcing business that was sold in November 2011.
In terms of performance, Limited Brands fared far better than its competitor Gap Inc. ( GPS ), which posted a comparable-store sales increase of 1%.
For the 22-week period ended June 30, 2012, Limited Brands registered comparable-store sales growth of 7%. However, net sales for the period fell 2.8% to $3,903 million from $4,015 million in the prior-year period. The prior-year sales included $362.9 million from a third-party apparel sourcing business that was sold in November 2011.
The company's Bath & Body Works segment is gaining traction, driven by a rise in store transactions, enhancement in the direct channel business and new stores. Victoria's Secret Stores have been performing well, and the company is also revamping its La Senza brand.
Limited Brands intends to augment its retail footprint across the globe by expanding aggressively in Canada and other international markets. Moreover, the company's strong liquidity positions it for growth as well as higher returns. However, stiff competition and erratic consumer behavior still remain matters of concern.
Currently, we have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. Limited Brands holds a Zacks #3 Rank that translates into a short-term Hold rating.