Vera Bradley 4Q profit up, shares slump on outlook

Vera Bradley profit jumps in 4Q on stronger sales, shares fall after-hours on weak outlook

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Vera Bradley Inc. fell more than 8 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday, after the women's accessories company forecast results for its fiscal first-quarter and full-year 2014 that fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The Fort Wayne, Ind.-based company issued the outlook with its fourth quarter results, which showed a 25 percent profit increase as sales benefited from new store openings.

For the first quarter of its fiscal 2014, however, the company said it expects diluted earnings to be in the range of 20 to 22 cents per share on revenue of $120 million to $122 million.

That's far short of the 35 cents per share analysts expected on revenue of $131.5 million.

For the full year, Vera Bradley expects earnings of $1.83 to $1.88 per share on revenue of $585 million to $590 million. Analysts were looking for $1.89 per share on revenue of $598 million, according to FactSet.

Shares dropped by $2.01, or 8.1 percent, to $22.88 in after-hours trading.

The disappointing outlook came despite a better--than-expected fourth quarter. For the three months ended Feb. 2, the company earned $25.1 million, or 62 cents per share. That compares with $20.1 million, or 50 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue rose 21 percent to $162.6 million, with an extra week in the quarter boosting sales by $4.9 million.

Analysts expected a profit of 57 cents per share on revenue of $151.9 million.

Sales for the direct segment rose 27 percent to $103.3 million. In-store revenue rose 31 percent as a result of the opening of 17 stores and three outlets. Sales at locations open at least a year slipped 0.4 percent. Online revenue grew 23 percent.

Indirect revenue through retail partners rose 11 percent to $59.2 million.

In a release, CEO Michael C. Ray said he was confident in the company's ability to deliver on its priorities for the year "despite current headwinds."

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