Abercrombie & Fitch Company Class A Earnings Call Insights: Clearance Inventory and Comps Analysis

Abercrombie & Fitch Company Class A (NYSE:ANF) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Clearance Inventory

Jay Sole – Morgan Stanley: This is Jay Sole on for Kimberly. Just a question, first of all, just trying to understand the connection between the lower inventory, the comp at Hollister, and the gross margin. It sounds like – was it really a factor, you mean to say lower fall clearance inventory or fall carryover, does that mean lower clearance inventory and really you need that clearance inventory to drive the comp at Hollister which is why the comp at Hollister was low and that’s why gross margin was high? Is that an accurate statement?

NEW! Discover a new stock idea each week for less than the cost of 1 trade. CLICK HERE for your Weekly Stock Cheat Sheets NOW!

Jonathan E. Ramsden – EVP and CFO: (Truly yeah.)

Michael S. Jeffries – Chairman and CEO: Yes, that’s right on.

Jay Sole – Morgan Stanley: So, now does that imply for 2Q when you’re talking about the guidance of $0.28 to $0.33, are you saying you’ll have more clearance inventory at Hollister and so we should expect the comp to be better and gross margin to be lower versus 1Q?

Jonathan E. Ramsden – EVP and CFO: Well, Jay, it’s probably a function of what we were lapping in Q1, because if you recall, at the end of 2011 we had a very significant fall carryover that we then turned through in Q1 of ’12, so when we were lapping that this year we had a much less of that fall carryover inventory. Going into Q2, the situation is a little more normalized although we did have some excess inventory of the equivalent point last year. But we think that’s a much less significant effect in Q2 than it was in Q1.

Comps Analysis

Betty Chen – Wedbush Securities: I was wondering Michael or maybe Jonathan you could give us a little bit more clarity regarding the top line assumption. It sounds like in the first quarter April was the strongest and you clearly saw sequential improvement. I would imagine with weather getting better in May that has continued. So, I was curious whatever the thinking behind comps being slightly down Q2 through Q4, is that really related to inventory or Europe or any color you can give us will be really helpful.

NEW! Discover a new stock idea each week for less than the cost of 1 trade. CLICK HERE for your Weekly Stock Cheat Sheets NOW!

Jonathan E. Ramsden – EVP and CFO: I think going back to Mike’s comments in the script, we referenced that 10 percentage points of the negative 15% comp was attributable to inventory. Coming into the quarter we projected, as you recall, so down high-single-digit comps which was primarily driven by that lower pool inventory. And then as we went through the quarter, the spring inventory issues added to that. So, believe, as we said, that those inventory headwinds are substantially behind us. So, that element of the comp goes away. And then we’re certainly seeing our DTC business pick up again nicely. So, that’s a big factor. And then as we look to the second quarter that was a more favorable compare than the first quarter as well.