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Valentine’s Day may not have been very sweet for L Brands, the company behind lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret and personal- and home-care products purveyor Bath & Body Works.
The company’s shares fell 12 per cent in after-hours trading after it said it expects to report a steeper-than-expected fall in sales for February. L Brands expects comparable sales to decrease in the mid-to-high teens range, compared to previous expectations for a less severe mid-single digit decrease.
L Brands said that the lowered guidance reflected a decline of about 20 per cent at Victoria’s Secret – which has recently exited its swim and apparel businesses to focus on its core undergarments products – and a mid-single digit decline at Bath & Body Works.
The dismal forecast undercut an otherwise solid quarterly earnings report from L Brands for the three-month period ending January 28. During that time, earnings per share came in at $2.18 on net income of $631.7m, compared to its preliminary estimates of $1.90 per share. Revenue for the quarter came in as it had previously expected, at $4.5bn.
Comparable sales – a key industry metric – showed Victoria’s Secret falling 3 per cent while Bath & Body Works gained 5 per cent, during the period including the all-important holiday shopping season.
Like many retailers that still rely heavily on brick-and-mortar store, L Brands has faced fierce competition from smaller rivals like American Eagle’s Aerie and online retailers like Amazon, which recently signalled it is moving in even closer on Victoria Secret’s traditional territory, as it reportedly looks to develop bras that could sell for as little as $10, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Over the past 12 months, L Brands shares have fallen 31.1 per cent.