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Fifth & Pacific's Juicy Couture sales still weak

NEW YORK (AP) -- Juicy Couture and kate spade owner Fifth & Pacific said Monday that Superstorm Sandy and declining Juicy Couture sales hurt its fourth-quarter performance, but its 2012 revenue squeaked past Wall Street's expectations.

The company made aggressive markdowns at Juicy Couture due to weak sales. It believes fixes for the brand's merchandising problems will come later this year and in 2014.

Fifth & Pacific Cos., formerly known as Liz Claiborne Inc., has sold off the weaker parts of its business over the past few years, such as Claiborne, to cut debt and focus on improving the performance of its remaining brands.

The New York company said Monday that its 2012 revenue totaled $1.51 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected slightly lower revenue of $1.5 billion.

The company sells its products in its own stores and through other retailers. A key revenue measure, which includes stores open at least a year and online sales, declined 2 percent at Juicy Couture in the fourth quarter. It rose 27 percent for kate spade and 3 percent for Lucky Brand. The holiday selling season of November through December is critical for retailers because it can comprise up to 40 percent of their annual revenue.

The company also said it expected a profit measure that excludes interest, taxes and other items from $100 million to $105 million. It had previously predicted $100 million to $115 million. Superstorm Sandy, which struck the East Coast in late October and knocked out power for millions, hurt this measure by $3 million.

For this year, Fifth & Pacific anticipates stagnant sales for Juicy Couture, growth for Lucky Brand and slower growth in sales at kate spade. In 2013, Fifth & Pacific predicted that the key revenue measure for Juicy Couture would range from slightly down to unchanged. It expects growth by a mid- to high-single-digit percentage for Lucky Brand and a low-teens percentage increase at kate spade.

Fifth & Pacific will report its fourth-quarter and 2012 results on Feb. 21.

Shares rose 16 cents to $13 in premarket trading Monday.