Shares of Children's Place Retail Stores (PLCE) are heading lower this morning following the release of its fourth quarter earnings report. For the quarter, Children's Place reported adjusted earning per share of $1.15, against estimates for $1.04, on revenue of $509.2M, against estimates for $496.04M. Same-store sales increased 4.3% and adjusted operating income increased 65%. The company opened four stores and closed 11 during the quarter. Looking ahead, Children's Place forecast adjusted EPS of 60c-65c in the first quarter of its new fiscal year, well below estimates for $1.19, due to unfavorable weather and weak macro-economic environment that is affecting consumer spending quarter-to-date. First quarter guidance assumes negative high-single digit same store sales, the company said. In the year ago period, Children's Place reported adjusted EPS of $1.14. For the fiscal year, the company forecast adjusted EPS of $2.90-$3.10, against estimates for $3.59. The FY13 guidance assumes low-single digit same-store sales and that currency exchange rates will remain where they are today. On its earnings conference call, the company guided gross margins down approximately 20-60 basis points for the year. The retailer said that the "insurmountable weather challenge" combined with the peak Easter selling period has significantly impacted traffic in the sales of warm weather apparel has resulted in a negative 8% comp quarter to date. For the second through fourth quarters, the company projects an improvement in the comp run rate. Children's Place is trading down $1.24, or 2.7%, to $44.75 in mid-morning trading.
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