Abercrombie & Fitch shares fall after sales report

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NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co., which sells clothing mainly for teenagers, plunged Thursday, after it said sales in its stores that have been open at least a year fell 19 percent in December.

The shares fell $2.71, or 7.5 percent, to $33.50 during afternoon trading. The stock has traded between $16.95 and $42.31 during the past year.

The drop in December was steeper than the 12.5 percent drop analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted.

Sales at stores open more than a year is considered a key indicator for retailers because it excludes sales at stores that open or close during the year.

Abercrombie & Fitch has faced falling sales over the past year as consumers cut spending and competition from lower-priced rivals increased. The company said it will write down the value of its stores in the fourth quarter but did not say how much.

Stifel Nicolaus lowered its forecasts for Abercrombie’s fourth-quarter and yearly profit following the news. It dropped each by 5 cents per share, to 95 cents per share and $1.03 per share, respectively.

Abercrombie reports fourth-quarter results Feb. 16.

Overall, retail sales in stores open at least one year rose 2.9 percent, ahead of analyst predictions of 2 percent, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.

Department stores’ sales comparison was weaker, a 0.7 percent rise, but better than the 0.3 percent decline analysts predicted.