Abercrombie & Fitch tanks 23% on weak same-store sales, says 3 big flagship stores to close

Key Points
  • Abercrombie & Fitch reports a narrower-than-expected net loss during the first quarter.
  • But its same-store sales growth came up short of expectations.
  • And the apparel retailer is closing three more flagship stores, including a Hollister location in New York.
An Abercrombie & Fitch store in San Francisco.
Getty Images

Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch tanked Wednesday after the apparel retailer reported weaker-than-expected same-store sales and said it plans to close three more big stores, including a Hollister location in New York.

Its stock was down more than 23% in early trading. Losses of more than 21.13% by market close Wednesday would make this Abercrombie shares' worst day since July 10, 2017.

The news also sent shares of rival American Eagle Outfitters down more than 5%.

Overall, Abercrombie's same-store sales were up 1% during the fiscal first quarter, falling short of estimates of 1.3% in a Refinitiv survey of analysts.

The retailer reported a net loss during the quarter of $19.2 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $42.5 million, or 62 cents per share, a year earlier. That was narrower than the adjusted loss of 43 cents a share analysts expected.

Sales grew to $734 million from $730.9 million a year ago, topping expectations for $733.4 million.

Momentum at Abercrombie's Hollister apparel brand looked like it was slowing. Hollister's same-store sales were up just 2% during the quarter, missing expectations for 3.3%. A year earlier, Hollister's same-store sales climbed 6%.

Looking to the second quarter, Abercrombie said it expects net sales to be flat to up 2%, short of analysts' estimates for 2.8% growth. For the year, Abercrombie is calling for net sales to be up 2% to 4%.

"Clearly, the second-quarter outlook looks to offset the first quarter upside relative to expectations," Telsey Advisory Group analyst Dana Telsey said. She said the disappointing second-quarter sales outlook is likely what fueled the stock's sell-off.

Abercrombie said sales at stores open at least 12 months are expected to be flat in the second quarter and to rise at a low-single digit rate this year.

As it continues to cull its real estate, Abercrombie also announced Wednesday it will close three more flagship stores — a Hollister store in the SoHo neighborhood in New York; an Abercrombie store in Fukuoka, Japan; and an Abercrombie store in Milan, Italy — bringing the total number of flagship stores it has shut since 2017 to five. The New York and Milan stores are expected to shut this year, with the Japan location closing in the back half of fiscal 2020, Abercrombie said.

"We continue to believe in stores and are committed to delivering intimate, omni-channel brand experiences that closely align with our customers' needs," CEO Fran Horowitz said in a statement, referring to the retailer adding services — like buy online pick up in store — to stores.

As of Tuesday's market close, Abercrombie shares had surged nearly 25% this year.