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Gap (GPS) Posts Dismal April & Q1 Comps: Stock Crashes

Shares of  The Gap, Inc. GPS have plunged 11.6% since the company released dismal comparable store sales (comps) and sales numbers for the month and quarter ended Apr 2016. This also marked the company’s 13th consecutive month of negative comps.

This Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) company’s failure to perform well in the core spring season could be attributable to slow consumer traffic on account of continuous fashion misses and intense competition from rivals like Zara, H&M and Forever 21, among others.

After posting disappointing first-quarter fiscal 2016 sales, management announced plans to take various steps to enhance its business and help revive it. The company is on track to streamline its operating model and exploit its scale advantage, to increase flexibility and efficiency. Also, the company plans to evaluate the performance of its Banana Republic and Old Navy fleets, mainly outside North America in an attempt to improve its international focus, which has greater potential.

April and Q1 Sales

Coming to the sales results, the company reported April net sales of $1.12 billion, which dropped 7.4% from $1.21 billion recorded for the four weeks ended May 2, 2015.

Comps for the four weeks ended Apr 30, 2016 were down 7%, compared with a 12% decline witnessed last year. The fall in April comps was caused by overall softness at the company as no brand could be the saving grace for Gap.

Comps at Gap Global slipped 4%, compared to a 15% decline last year, while Old Navy Global saw its comps slump 10%, following a 6% drop recorded last year. Finally, performance at Banana Republic Global continued to deteriorate, as the brand recorded a 7% plunge following a 15% fall last year.

Moving to Gap’s first-quarter fiscal 2016 sales, net sales slipped 6% to $3.44 billion, with comps sliding 5% year over year. Segment-wise, comps at the Gap Global, Old Navy Global and Banana Republic Global brands fell 3%, 6% and 11%, respectively. While Gap and Banana Republic comps declined 10% and 8%, respectively, in the prior-year period, comps at Old Navy trended upward by 3% in the first quarter of 2015.

Moreover, as predicted earlier, the company’s gross margin remained pressurized, as sluggish traffic caused the company to enter April with greater-than-expected inventories, which had to be cleared at discounted rates. Consequently, Gap envisions first-quarter earnings to range from 31–32 cents per share.

Also, management revealed that the shift of Memorial Day holidays from May to June this year, are likely to impact May sales negatively. However, the same will be a benefit for Jun 2016 sales.

Gap is scheduled to release its first-quarter fiscal 2016 results on May 19.

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks in the same industry worth considering include Abercrombie & Fitch Co. ANF, New York & Company Inc. NWY and Shoe Carnival Inc. SCVL, each with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
ABERCROMBIE (ANF): Free Stock Analysis Report
GAP INC (GPS): Free Stock Analysis Report
NEW YORK & CO (NWY): Free Stock Analysis Report
SHOE CARNIVAL (SCVL): Free Stock Analysis Report
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