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Limited Profit Falls, With Weakness Across All Brands

CNBC.com
Wednesday, 23 May 2007 | 5:24 PM ET

Limited Brands said its earnings fell 46% in the first quarter, hurt by lower-than-anticipated sales and margins across all its brands, particularly Victoria's Secret. It also cut its full-year earnings outlook.

Limited Brands said it made $52.9 million, or 13 cents a share, for the quarter ended May 5, compared with profits of $99.4 million, or 25 cents a share, a year ago. Sales totaled $2.3 billion compared with $2.1 billion a year ago.

Limited Brands said last week that it expected to make 12 cents to 14 cents share in the first quarter compared with its previous forecast of 25 to 28 cents and 25 cents a share last year.

The retailer said sales at stores opened at least a year -- considered a key indicator of a retailer's strength -- rose 4 percent in the quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 14 cents a share on revenue of $2.3 billion. They had projected earnings of 22 cents a share before Limited Brands' slashed its outlook last week.

Limited Brands said it now expects to make 20 cents to 24 cents a share in the second quarter, compared with 28 cents a year ago, and that earnings for the full year would be between $1.55 and $1.65 a share, compared with its initial guidance of $1.75 per share. Analysts were anticipating earnings of 22 cents a share for the quarter and $1.88 for the year.

The company said same-store sales will be in the negative low single digit range compared with a previous forecast of positive low single digit.

Limited Brands said last week that it will sell 6% of its Express brands stores to affiliates of private equity firm Golden Gate Capital for $548 million. The sale is expected to be completed by July.

It also said it is exploring options that include a sale of Limited Stores chain. The moves effectively put Limited Brands out of the apparel business to focus on beauty products and lingerie.

Limited Brands shares have traded between $23.54 and $32.60 in the past year.

Limited Brands operates 3,768 stores under the names Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, C.O. Bigelow, Express, Limited Stores, White Barn Candle Co. and Henri Bendel.

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