Earnings

Victoria’s Secret refers to Ukraine war and inflation as it offers dismal first-quarter outlook

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Shoppers are seen inside a shopping mall in Bethesda, Maryland on February 17, 2022.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Victoria’s Secret seesawed in after-hour hours trading Wednesday after the lingerie retailer issued a downbeat outlook for the coming quarter, cautioning that it still sees challenges ahead – including inflation and “global unrest,” a reference to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

It reported fiscal fourth-quarter profits and sales that slightly outpaced analysts’ expectations, after it reaffirmed a forecast in December for its holiday performance.

Its performance in the near future, though, could prove to be clouded by global headwinds. Victoria’s Secret said the first half of this year may be more difficult to operate in, given ongoing supply chain issues, but that it should return to operating income growth in the back half. Victoria’s Secret called the third quarter an expected inflection point.

Here’s how Victoria’s Secret did in its fiscal fourth quarter compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $2.70 vs. $2.63 expected
  • Revenue: $2.18 billion vs. $2.14 billion expected

Net income for the three-month period ended Jan. 29 fell to $246 million from $282 million a year earlier. Revenue grew about 4% to $2.18 billion from $2.1 billion a year earlier.

The company said its beauty merchandise helped to drive customers online and into its brick-and-mortar stores, while its international business reported outsized growth compared with North American operations. Victoria’s Secret also said it has been pleased with the recent launch of a new collection, called Love Cloud, that is centered around comfort and inclusivity.

To be sure, in the coming months, Victoria’s Secret sees a challenging retail environment with rising inflation and “the potential for consumer uncertainty with the recent global unrest.”

The company expects to incur incremental supply chain costs and expenses related to inflation in the first half of the year of about $140 million, roughly similar to what it reported in the back half of 2021. Oil prices have surged during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stoking fears that already-high inflation will persist and rise by even hotter rates.

The retailer sees first-quarter sales in a range of $1.43 billion to $1.5 billion, which would represent a decrease of 4% to 8% from the prior year. That’s also short of analysts’ estimates for $1.52 billion.

It sees first-quarter earnings per share in a range of 70 cents to 95 cents. Analysts had been looking for $1.32 a share, according to Refinitiv.

The retailer said in prepared remarks that it expects to face ongoing supply chain cost pressures, and it’s also lapping stimulus benefits of roughly $50 million in the first quarter of 2021.

It anticipates 2022 revenue to be flat to up low-single digits compared with 2021 levels. Analysts had been projecting a 2.9% increase year over year.

Victoria’s Secret said it continues to evaluate the size of its real estate footprint, as it tests an off-mall concept and remodels existing shops to make them lighter and more inviting for shoppers. It anticipates closing anywhere between 10 and 30 shops in 2022.

“We continue to see positive response to newness and being able to sustain a lower level of promotional activity,” management said in prepared remarks.

Victoria’s Secret shares are down about 2% this year, as of Wednesday’s market close. That brings the retailer’s market cap to $4.8 billion.

Read the full earnings release from Victoria’s Secret here. The company is set to hold a live conference call with analysts on Thursday morning.

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