Shares of American Eagle plummet 16% on unimpressive holiday forecast

American clothing and accessories retailer American Eagle store seen in Hong Kong. (Photo by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Budrul Chukrut | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Shares of American Eagle plummeted nearly 16% on Tuesday after the company issued a holiday forecast that failed to impress. 

For its holiday quarter, American Eagle expects sales to be up high single digits, ahead of the 3.4% sales growth analysts had expected, according to LSEG. However, it’s expecting its operating income to be between $105 million and $115 million, which is mostly below expectations of $114 million, according to StreetAccount.

The forecast was dampened by an expected 20% uptick in selling and general administrative expenses, the company said.  

The apparel retailer outperformed in its fiscal third quarter, however. Here’s how the company did compared with what Wall Street was anticipating, based on a survey of analysts by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 49 cents vs. 48 cents expected
  • Revenue: $1.3 billion vs. $1.28 billion expected

The company’s reported net income for the three-month period that ended Oct. 28 was $96.7 million, or 49 cents per share, compared with $81.3 million, or 42 cents per share, a year earlier. 

Sales rose to $1.3 billion, up about 5% from $1.24 billion a year earlier. 

During the quarter, American Eagle’s gross margin came in at 41.8%, below the 42.1% that analysts had expected, according to StreetAccount. 

American Eagle managed to eke out a 5% uptick in sales despite an overall slowdown in the apparel industry but its performance still failed to impress Wall Street.

A similar dynamic emerged at rival Abercrombie & Fitch, which also reported earnings on Tuesday and a forecast that fell flat against soaring sales growth. 

For the full year, American Eagle is projecting revenue to be up mid single digits, compared with previous guidance of up low single digits. Analysts had expected full-year sales growth to be around 2.6%, according to LSEG.

The retailer tightened its forecast for full-year operating income and expects it to be in the range of $340 million to $350 million, compared with prior guidance of $325 million to $350 million, which is what analysts had expected, according to StreetAccount. SG&A expenses are also expected to be up in the low double digits for the full year. 

Retailers have been on pins and needles ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season over concerns that demand will be tepid and muted commentary from American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch follow similar remarks from other retailers that recently reported earnings. 

Also on Tuesday, both Best Buy and Lowe’s cut their forecasts, citing an unpredictable consumer and a continued slowdown in big-ticket purchases.

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