L Brands profits take a hit in 2018; shares plummet
Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands, Inc. reported dips in Q4 and full-year 2018 earnings on Wednesday and announced a disappointing EPS outlook of between $2.20 and $2.60 for fiscal 2019, leading shares in the company to tumble more than 8% in extended trading, according to figures cited by CNBC.
As previously reported, net sales for the thirteen-week fourth quarter ended February 2, 2019, totaled $4.852 billion, a slight increase from the $4.823 billion achieved in fiscal 2017’s fourteen-week fourth quarter.
Operating income in Q4 2018, however, came to $799.4 million, down from $986.6 million in the prior-year period. Likewise, net income was $540.1 million, compared to $664.1 million, making for earnings per share (EPS) of $1.94, compared to $2.33 in the equivalent period in the previous year.
Part of this decline was due to the fact that L Brands’ fourth-quarter earnings in 2018 were negatively impacted by $99.24 million in expenses related to the company’s sale of La Senza, charges which also dragged down the group’s annual profits.
The company’s full-year operating income totaled $1.237 billion, compared to $1.728 billion in fiscal 2017, while net income came to $643.9 million, or $2.31 per share, compared to $983.0 million, or $3.42 per share.
Full-year net sales were $13.237 billion, up from $12.632 billion in fiscal 2017. Total company comparable sales increased 3%, as a strong 11% comps rise at L Brands’ Bath & Body Works banner was undermined by a 2% decrease at Victoria’s Secret.
The lingerie brand has been a consistent drag on its parent company’s results over the last year as it has struggled to keep up with changing consumer tastes, which are increasingly prioritizing inclusivity, body positivity and comfort.
The disconnect between Victoria’s Secret and its target market was notably thrown into focus at the end of last year by the controversy caused by CMO Ed Razek’s comments on transgender and plus-size models, as well as by the rock bottom TV ratings achieved by the most recent Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
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