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Stock Market & Financial Investment News

News Breaks
August 25, 2014
13:10 EDTANNAnn Inc. rises after investors call on board to consider sale
Shares of women's apparel retailer Ann Inc. (ANN) are climbing after investors in the company urged it to consider selling itself. WHAT'S NEW: Two investors in Ann Inc.'s stock - Engine Capital and Red Alder - disclosed this morning that they had sent the company's independent board members a letter in which they called on the company to consider selling itself. Engine Capital is a value oriented, special situations fund, while Red Alder is an investment adviser. The two entities, who made the statements in a press release, said that they own a combined stake of more than 1% in Ann. The retailer is "deeply undervalued" and the board can take action that would significantly increase shareholder value, the investors wrote. After speaking with members of Ann's management team, the two entities said they had hoped that the company would start exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company. However, since the company did not announce that it was beginning such a process, the investors decided to go public with their request, they stated. After conducting extensive due diligence, including studying the valuations at which privately-held retailers have been sold, Engine Capital and Red Alder estimate that Ann Inc could be sold for $50-$55 per share. Moreover, the entities said that several factors, including their decision to go public with their position and the purchase of a 9.5% stake in Ann earlier this year by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, make "the status quo untenable." They urged Ann Inc. to immediately retain a nationally recognized investment bank and establish a special committee of independent directors to explore strategic alternatives, including a sale. WHAT'S NOTABLE: Ann Inc. shares slid over 3% on Friday after the company reported its Q2 results that morning and said that it experienced softer traffic levels along with sales and margin pressure in the second half of the quarter. PRICE ACTION: In early afternoon trading, Ann gained 4.3% to $39.14.
News For ANN From The Last 14 Days
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September 23, 2014
11:38 EDTANNAscena Retail plummets to 52-week low after results, guidance trail consensus
Shares of Ascena Retail (ASNA), a national specialty retailer of apparel for women and teen girls, are falling after the company's fourth quarter results and fiscal 2015 profit outlook trailed analysts' consensus estimates. WHAT'S NEW: Last night, Ascena Retail reported Q4 adjusted EPS of 13c and revenue of $1.18B, far below analysts' consensus estimates of 18c and $1.21B, respectively. Same store sales for the period declined 2%. Looking ahead, Ascena Retail forecast FY15 adjusted EPS of 90c-$1.00 excluding any acquisition-related, integration and restructuring costs that may be incurred during the fiscal year, significantly trailing the consensus of $1.25. The company sees EPS down compared to last year in the first half, but expects growth in the second half. The company sees flat to modest positive total comparable store growth for the year, with Fall flat to down low-single digits, and Spring up low-single digits. EBITA growth for the year is seen in the mid-to-high single digits, with the EBITDA rate flat to up 20 basis points, with 80-100 basis points of improvement in gross margin rate mostly offset by operating expense rate de-leverage. Ascena also sees a net new store increase of 30-40 units, capital expenditures of $350M-$375M and an effective tax rate of 37% vs. 32% in fiscal year 2014. The company sees FY15 double digit growth in depreciation, with projected expenses between $210M-$215M. The company's guidance is based on an ongoing challenging retail environment. WHAT'S NOTABLE: Ascena President and Chief Executive Officer David Jaffe commented that Q4 EPS was "in line" with expectations, despite mixed results across its portfolio and soft traffic patterns. Jaffe said the company is maintaining a conservative outlook for the Fall season, as the company has "yet to see sustained evidence of market improvement." Ascena also said it plans to increasingly focus on adjusted EBITDA as an indicator of underlying financial performance because it normalizes for major changes in non-cash depreciation and tax rates. ANALYST REACTION: This morning, research firm SunTrust lowered its price target on Ascena Retail to $17 from $21 after the company reported results that were weak across the board. The firm believes that the company is making appropriate changes and seems well-positioned for the future, while its brand integrity is intact across divisions. SunTrust reiterated a Buy rating on shares. Another firm, Oppenheimer, said Ascena's retail strategies should help stem margin pressure. The firm added that the profitability of the company's new brands is rising significantly, while its guidance looks conservative. Oppenheimer cut its price target on the shares to $19 from $22, but kept an Outperform rating on the stock. PRICE ACTION: In late morning trading, Ascena Retail fell $2.69, or 16.24%, to $13.85 on nearly four times its average daily trading volume. Earlier in the session, the stock notched a fresh 52-week low of $13.72. Including today's pull-back, the shares have lost approximately 22% over the past 12 months. OTHERS TO WATCH: Other specialty retailers catering to women include Christopher & Banks (CBK), Chico's FAS (CHS), and Ann Inc. (ANN).

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