For all the negative publicity and social media outrage, Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) has endured over the past month, the stock of the trendy retailer remained resilient, gaining nearly 20% at a time when the stock market barely inched forward. But that all came to a screeching halt this morning, after the Ohio-based chain posted its most disappointing earnings report in a decade.
Officially, Abercrombie lost $0.09 per share in the first quarter, on a 17% plunge in same store sales. That ''negative surprise" is about 80% less than the $0.05 loss expected on the bottom line, and ten full percentage points worse than the modest 7% comparable revenue slump projected by analysts.
As my co-host Jeff Macke and I discuss in the attached video, it's hardly the first time this historically volatile brand has stumbled, but it certainly is the most dramatic. And when taken in context of the recent backlash CEO Mike Jeffries has faced, at the very least, it begs the question whether teen anger has morphed into a legitimate Wall Street revolt.
"The only thing that's changed since (those comments were made in 2006) is that the CEO has had about five face lifts and maybe 10,000 Botox injections," Macke declares. "The truth is, this is the same company that it's always been."
To be fair, the company's press release blames the quarter's weakness on "inventory shortage issues," a cardinal sin in retail where modest overstocking is standard operating procedure. Of course, this excuse brings with it its own set of ridicule for it is Abercrombie's own inventory policies that have brought it under fire. Specifically, that it doesn't stock XL or XXL sized clothing so as not to sully the aspirational image that the brand supposedly stands for.
Only time will tell if Jefferies is able to right the ship once again, or if this time, maybe it is actually different and this nascent brand rejection is gaining momentum.