After reviewing Chico's CHS fourth-quarter results, Morningstar is maintaining its fair value estimate. In line with expectations, comparable-store sales and operating profit growth decelerated during the quarter, validating the view that results will slow because of weaker demand for women's apparel during the holiday season and as the firm laps more meaningful comparisons in the back half of the year. However, management's positive outlook for 2011, as consolidated comparable sales were up 1.1% (on top of a 14.6% comp in the prior year), versus 3.1% in the third quarter and 6.4% in the second quarter. Total quarterly revenue growth (9.0%) came in slightly above our implied expectations as sales at new stores picked up during the period, but increased markdowns at White House | Black Market front-line stores and additional promotional activity in the direct-to-consumer channel to clear excess inventory weighed on gross margins (down 140 basis points). This was more than offset by better merchandise margins at outlet stores as well as operating leverage gained during the quarter. Excluding charges, the operating margin increased 20 basis points to 6.6%. The children’s favorite brand was losing 1.84% by midday trading Wednesday.
But amongst defensive issues that closed in positive territory on Wednesday, Fast Retailing, which operates the Uniqlo chain of budget apparel stores, was a notable advancer, especially when compared to the rest of Nikkei, severely affected by the shortage of oil following Libya turmoil. Tokyo stocks retreated Wednesday, with the key Nikkei stock index falling 0.80 percent to its lowest closing level since Feb. 4, as escalating turmoil in Libya sent crude oil prices higher triggering concerns about a slowdown in global economic growth. However, the retailer climbed 3.4 percent to 12,790, aided by smaller rival Right On who announced brisk sales in February which saw its shares surge 17 percent today to close at 538 yen.
Neither the most coveted jewelry firm escaped from the North African revolting influence. SmarTrend has detected shares of Tiffany & Co have bearishly opened below the pivot of $63.30 Wednesday and have reached the first level of support of $62.00. “Should the shares continue to fall, we are monitoring the next support pivots of $61.30 and $59.30. Also, the shares are currently trading above the 50-day moving average of $61.74 and above the 200-day moving average of $50.31.”
In other order of matters, with inflation and rise in labor costs troubling its neighboring country China, India is hopeful to grabbing the former's share in global garment and apparel exports to some extent. China, which roughly enjoys a share of 27-28 per cent of total apparel exports, is facing issues like growing inflation and rise in wage costs, resulting in export orders trickling down to India. With this, the Indian garment and apparel industry are already witnessing a rise in export enquiries from the US and European countries by around 10-15 per cent.