UPDATE 1-Shoes, jeans lift Jones Group revenue; U.S. retail weak
* Profit before items 14 cts/shr vs Street view 7 cts
* 4th-quarter U.S. retail revenue down 6.6 pct
* Gross margin falls 1.2 points to 34.6 percent
Feb 13 (Reuters) - Jones Group Inc, the fashion company behind such brands as Nine West and Jones New York, on Wednesday reported a higher-than-expected adjusted profit for the holiday quarter as sales of its shoes and jeans to U.S. department stores picked up.
Fourth-quarter revenue rose 8.8 percent to $971.9 million, better than the $955.3 million Wall Street was expecting, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Jones, which in recent years has benefited from its shift to higher-end brands with the acquisition of names such as Stuart Weitzman and Kurt Geiger, will continue to focus on building its upscale offerings in 2013, Chief Executive Wesley Card said in a statement.
In contrast to its growing jeans and shoes businesses, Jones' own U.S. stores continued to struggle, with revenue down 6.6 percent in the quarter. The company warned in October that it would be a tough holiday season for its stores, given how aggressive competitors would be in offering deals and discounts.
Jones' gross margin, which reflects the profitability of the goods it sells, fell 1.2 percentage points to 34.6 percent in the quarter. The company said that as part of its efforts to improve margins, it would be careful about building up too much inventory in 2013.
Jones, which gets nearly half of its revenue by selling to chains like Macy's Inc and Nordstrom Inc, said jeans sales to U.S. retailers rose 6.8 percent, while shoe sales were up 5.5 percent.
Jones' fourth-quarter net loss deepened to $80.1 million, or $1.06 per share, from $8.2 million, or 27 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding costs such as those related to restructuring, the company earned 14 cents per share, beating the 7 cents analysts were projecting.