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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Quarterly results served with a side of caution

November 5, 2008

Check out quarterly results being dished up with a big side of caution.

Polo Ralph Lauren reported higher second quarter profit, citing increased sales and a lower tax rate.

Polo, whose brands include Polo, Chaps and Club Monaco, affirmed its earnings outlook for fiscal 2009, but it tempered its full-year sales forecast. It now expects a low single-digit increase in 2009 revenue, instead of a low-to-mid single digit increase as earlier expected.

Meanwhile, Maidenform Brands posted better-than-expected third-quarter results as it sold more of its undergarments to department stores and national retail chains.

But as customers like Boscov’s and Mervyns go out of business, it cut its 2008 earnings per share forecast to $1.17 to $1.21 from a prior outlook of $1.22 to $1.30. Maidenform also expects full year net sales to be flat to down 1 percent, compared with a previous view for net sales to be down 1 percent to up 1 percent.

K-Swiss posted better-than-expected quarterly results, helped by the acquisition of Palladium SAS, and raised its 2008 outlook. But the company, which sells its products under the K-Swiss and Royal Elastics brands in the United States and Europe, said the uncertainty caused by the credit markets disruption and likely recession present substantial challenges.

“Excluding Palladium, our financial results and backlog confirm the deteriorating global outlook for K-Swiss in 2008 and 2009,” according to Chairman Steven Nichols.

The results come a day after online jewelry retailer Blue Nile posted lower quarterly profit, as higher diamond prices and tightened credit hurt sales.  It also withdrew a full-year outlook, citing uncertainty over consumer spending, and it expects a “very challenging” holiday season.

“The extensive weakening of the U.S. economy and tight credit conditions faced by consumers hampered our growth,” said Blue Nile Chief Executive Diane Irvine. “The credit freeze has impacted purchases of high-ticket items, as traditional avenues of financing have now closed.”

Also in the basket:

Consumer spending hit by crisis: MasterCard (Reuters)

Private sector cuts 157,000 jobs in Oct (Reuters)

Papa John’s net profit rises but below Street (Reuters)

McQueen Kicks Off Target Design Effort (WWD, subscription required)

(Photo: Reuters)

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