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Destination Maternity's 1Q profit may come in low

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Destination Maternity Corp. said Thursday that it expects its fourth-quarter profit will come in at the lower end of its guidance.

The company expects its earnings for the first quarter to be between 30 cents and 31 cents per share, versus its prior earnings guidance range of 29 cents to 34 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, it anticipates earnings between 32 cents and 33 cents per share, compared to its prior guidance of 31 cents to 36 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet were anticipating earnings of 34 cents per share on an adjusted basis.

This announcement comes as the maternity clothing retailer reported slower sales. Its total revenue for the first quarter dipped to $134.8 million from $135.3 million in the prior year.

Destination Maternity said that its revenue from stores open at least a year for the quarter increased 0.7 percent versus a 1.9 percent increase last year. This metric is considered a key indicator of a retailer's financial performance because it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores. The company includes internet sales in this measure.

The company said the dip in total sales for the quarter is due to fewer stores in operation as it has been shuttering underperforming sites.

CEO Ed Krell said in a statement that the slightly weaker sales reflect challenges in the overall economic environment during the holiday shopping season.

Destination Maternity, based in Philadelphia, has 595 stores and 1,328 leased department locations as of the end of its first quarter.

Shares of the company fell 47 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $29.02 by midday, outpacing a broader market dip.