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Body Central cuts profit outlook, shares tumble

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Shares of Body Central slid Tuesday after the women's clothing store chain slashed its profit forecast for the year to far below analysts' estimate, blaming its deteriorating holiday sales trends.

Body Central Corp. ran more promotions in December than planned due to tough competition, hurting profitability, said Tom Stoltz, the company's interim CEO. November and December are critical months for retailers, as they can make up as much as 40 percent of revenue.

The company's efforts to improve its business will only have a positive impact later in 2013, said Stoltz, who is also the Jacksonville, Fla., company's chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

Shares of Body Central, which runs 276 Body Central and Body Shop stores in the U.S., dropped $1.21, or 12.5 percent, to $8.50 in morning trading. Shares fell 60 percent in 2012.

Body Central estimated profit for 2012 of between 68 cents and 70 cents per share, down from a previous forecast of 80 cents to 83 cents per share. Wall Street forecast earnings of 83 cents per share, with a big gap between the company's fourth-quarter profit prediction and what analysts had expected.

The prediction for 2012 is a steep drop from 2011, when the company posted profit of $1.22 per share.

For last year, Body Central said that revenue rose 4.9 percent to $311 million. It had previously predicted revenue of $312 million to $314 million, while analysts expected $311.9 million. Revenue in 2011 was $296.5 million.

It cut its outlook as revenue at stores open at least a year fell 11.6 percent in the last three months of the year. That's a key gauge of a retailer's health, as it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed. The measure fell 8.1 percent for the year.

It is expected to report full results for the fourth quarter and year in early March.