(Adds CEO and analyst comments, details; updates shares)
By Ramkumar Iyer
March 12 (Reuters) - Teen apparel retailer Aeropostale Inc forecast a bigger quarterly loss than analysts had expected, citing weak customer traffic at its stores, inclement weather and shipment delays because of disruptions at ports on the West Coast.
Shares of the mall-based retailer, which also reported an adjusted quarterly profit after two years of losses, fell 9 percent in extended trading on Thursday.
Faced with stiff competition from fast-fashion retailers such as H&M, Forever 21 and Inditex’s Zara, Aeropostale has started offering trendier styles to attract young shoppers.
However, delays in shipments of some of its spring and summer lines are expected to partly hurt Aeropostale in the current quarter, Chief Executive Julian Geiger said on a conference call.
The company has also been hurt by teenagers cutting back on mall visits and discretionary spending, opting instead for online shopping to get better deals.
Geiger, however, said he expected improvement in Aeropostale’s performance as the year progresses, helped by the back-to-school shopping season.
“Despite being off to an inconsistent start in the first quarter, we believe that we will see slow and sequential improvements in our performance over the first half of the year,” Geiger said.
Rival Abercrombie & Fitch Co reported a 14 percent drop in fourth-quarter sales last week due to low demand for its logo-focused clothing.
Aeropostale forecast a loss of 53-61 cents per share for the current quarter. Analysts on average were expecting a loss of 36 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“It still seems like a pretty challenging environment. The bad weather hasn’t helped either,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Susan Anderson told Reuters.
Aeropostale reported a 9 percent fall in comparable sales for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, the tenth straight quarter of decline.
Aeropostale’s net loss narrowed to $13.5 million, or 17 cents per share, from $70.3 million, or 90 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned 1 cent per share.
Net sales fell 11.3 percent to $593.8 million.
Analysts on average expected a loss of 3 cents per share and revenue of $577.4 million.
Aeropostale’s shares were trading at $3.37 after the bell. Up to Thursday’s close, the stock had fallen nearly 50 percent in the past 12 months. (Editing by Kirti Pandey)