L Brands, Inc. (LTD)
May 09, 2013 7:30 am ET
Good morning, everyone. This is Amie Preston, Chief Investor Relations Officer, and this is Limited Brands April sales report for the 4-week period ending May 4, 2013. As a matter of formality, I need to remind you that any forward-looking statements I may make today are subject to the Safe Harbor statement found in our SEC filings.
Total Limited Brands sales for the 4 weeks ended May 4, 2013, were $660.5 million versus sales of $659 million for the 4 weeks ended April 28, 2012. Limited Brands April comps, on a calendar basis, were up 2%. April comps were positively impacted by the additional selling day as a result of Easter moving into March. However, we believe April results were also negatively impacted by the pull-forward of the Easter and spring break business into March and this impact is difficult to quantify. The April merchandise margin rate was down to last year. Inventories ended the month up 3% per square foot at cost.
First quarter sales increased 5% to $2.268 billion compared to $2.154 billion last year. First quarter comps increased 3%. We expect to report first quarter earnings per share of approximately $0.46 versus our previous guidance of $0.40 to $0.45. Our first quarter results were negatively impacted by approximately $0.03 per share due to costs related to severance and a higher tax rate.
Victoria's Secret stores April comparable store sales increased 2% on top of the 8% last year. We are disappointed with our overall performance in April, particularly in bras. While we have seen strength in our core offerings, our recent introductions have not offset the volume from styles exited in the past 12 months. April began with a continued focus on our Very Sexy collection and a focus on PINK's Multi-Way Bustier Bra. The themes shifted midmonth to our Dream Angels collection.
The merchandise margin rate declined significantly versus last year, driven primarily by the impact of the calendar shift as a result of the 53rd week in 2012. This calendar shift resulted in the accrual of costs related to our beginning-of-May customer mailing in April this year versus May last year. In addition, merchandise margin rates were negatively impacted by higher redemptions in our Secret Rewards program. May will begin with a focus on our Multi-Way offerings, our PINK Lace Racerback and a focus on Mother's Day in Beauty. The themes will shift midmonth to our Flawless line.
First quarter sales at Victoria's Secret stores increased 5% to $1.146 billion and comps increased 3%.
At Victoria's Secret Direct, April sales were down 4% as growth in PINK, bras and sleepwear was offset by declines in the apparel category and shipping and handling revenue. The April merchandise margin rate was down to last year, driven by an increase in free shipping and other offers. First quarter sales at Victoria's Secret Direct were $359.1 million, down 6% to last year.
At Bath & Body Works, April comps were up 4%, driven by the performance of our Signature Collection, home fragrance and soap and sanitizer businesses. Merchandise margin rate for the month was down to last year. First quarter sales were $530.1 million and comps were up 3%.
We began May with the Let's go to Italy theme, which will continue through Mother's Day. We then transition to our Pure Paradise theme that features new and seasonal fragrances in Signature Collection, home fragrance and soaps and sanitizers.
At La Senza, April comps were up 2%. The merchandise margin rate was up significantly to last year, driven by decreased promotional activity. First quarter sales were $72.8 million and comps increased 5%.
In closing, we are planning May comps up in the low single-digit range. We will release first quarter earnings after the market close on May 22. Our earnings call will be on May 23 and will start at 9:15 a.m., 15 minutes later than usual due to our annual meeting, which is at 8:30.
Thank you for your continuing interest in Limited Brands.
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