(Filed Under Financial and General Interest News). Sales at aerie, the intimate apparel division of American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., rose 18% in its second quarter ended August 1, compared to the same quarter last year. aerie’s rapid growth prompted the company’s CEO to predict sales at the division to approach half a billion in the coming years.
While American Eagle is, itself, doing better this year (with sales up 10% in the first half), the lingerie division has been the best sales performer at the company, with sales rising 15% in the first half.
In a sign that things are likely to continue to improve for American Eagle, on September 14th, interim CEO Jay Schottenstein demonstrated his optimism by purchasing 500,000 shares of stock in the company at an average price of $15.74, for a total expenditure of $7,870,000.
American Eagle earned $33.3 million on sales of $797.4 million in the second quarter compared to just $5.8 million on sales of $710.6 million in the same quarter last year. For the six months ended August 1, the company earned $62.3 million on sales of $1.497 billion compared to earnings of just $9.7 million on sales of $1.357 billion in the six months ended August 2, 1914.
Even though sales are booming for aerie, American Eagle is still saying it will close between 20 and 25 of its lingerie stores in its fiscal year (by the end of January, 2016). Yet it only closed three aerie stores in the first quarter of 2015 and only one in the most recent quarter. At the same time it says it will also open two new aerie stores by the end of its fiscal year.
In recent years American Eagle has been aggressively shutting aerie stores and more recently has been advocating smaller lingerie formats. As of August 1, 2015 there were a total of 97 stand alone aerie stores (82 in the U.S. and 15 in Canada). At the end of fiscal 2011 the company operated 158 aerie stores, but closed seven in 2012, 29 in 2013 and 21 in fiscal 2014.
Assuming the company continues the closing and opening schedule as stated in August, by the end of January, 2016 there will be only 78 to 83 stand alone aerie stores in North America.
In addition to the free-standing aerie stores, as of August 1st, there were 60 “aerie Side by Side” stores (up from 55 as of January 31st). There are 50 of these stores in the U.S., six in Canada and four in Mexico, each of which, the company points out, “are NOT counted as a separate store as they are part of the AE Mainline or Factory stores.”
During a conference call to discuss the second quarter results, Schottenstein and his team discussed the performance of the lingerie stores. “In a tough retail environment, both American Eagle and aerie achieved significant sales and earnings growth, and we see momentum continuing into the third quarter.” He added, “aerie presents an incredible growth and opportunity, which I believe can double in size over the next several years. Under Jen Foyle’s leadership the brand has gained very good traction. We are enthusiastic about the intimates market and believe aerie is unique, differentiated and perfect for today’s young woman. aerie is poised for growth much like American Eagle felt early in its history.”
In fiscal 2014, aerie contributed about 8% of American Eagle’s total sales of $3.3 billion, or about $240 million. Thus, Schottenstein’s prediction would be for aerie’s sales to approach $480 million in “several years.”
During the same conference call in August, Foyle, who is global brand president, aerie, described her most recent quarter: “We saw positive growth across all store formats and our digital business was especially strong. The average unit retail price unit per transaction and average dollar sales all increased.” She added that mall traffic increased and “we continue to gain new customers. Merchandise margins expanded with less markdowns and we continue to strengthen the bottom line delivering higher profitability.”
At aerie, “The best categories included bras, undies, swim, and soft dressing. We delivered newness, innovation, better quality and improved value.”
Foyle praised the division’s “aerie Real” campaign, noting that it “has been extremely well received by our customers and it’s truly a point of differentiation. We are excited to re-launch the campaign this month, featuring Emma Roberts as our first Real celebrity. Emma was a natural choice for aerie. She is a confident, independent spirit like the aerie Girl.”
“On the store front, we are growing our side-by-side store counts, where we continue to see strong results in both aerie and adjacent AE store. Our new modern store formats are performing extremely well. As Jay mentioned, I want to reiterate the tremendous growth and opportunity for aerie and I look forward to continuing current momentum.”
Chief financial and administrative officer Mary Boland emphasized American Eagle’s commitment to smaller aerie stores. “We really believe in all the store formats based on smaller square footage but we believe in that growth and certainly really leaning on the direct channel as sort of our gateway to the introduction of the brand to the customer.”
In responding to a final question from a securities analyst, Foyle showed her particular enthusiasm for social media as a way to grow aerie. “As far as social media. We leaned on that heavily kicking out in Spring One with the selfie event and that was a great start. So we will continue to leverage that. We’ve assembled the whole new social networking team that is highly focused on speaking to the girl in the way that she responds. So regarding that part of the business, it’s been highly effective. And then the second, can you remind me of your first question please? We are so excited about the social part of the business, I forgot about your first question.”
The complete conference call can be found here: http://seekingalpha.com/article/3452496-american-eagles-aeo-ceo-jay-schottenstein-on-q2-2015-results-earnings-call-transcript
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