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Magazine > Fortune > News Content
Liz Claiborne reduces total debt to $744 million
      3/7/2009 4:34:42 PM

Liz Claiborne Inc announced earnings for the fourth quarter and full year 2008. For the fourth quarter of 2008 and on a GAAP basis, the loss per share from continuing operations was ($8.36) compared to a loss per share from continuing operations of ($4.34) for the fourth quarter of 2007.

Adjusted loss per share from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2008 was ($0.04) compared to adjusted diluted earnings per share ("EPS") from continuing operations of $0.26 for the fourth quarter of 2007. Net sales from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2008 were approximately $911 million, a decrease of $261 million, or 22.2%, from the comparable 2007 period, inclusive of a $112 million decrease associated with brands or certain brand activities that have been licensed, closed or exited and have not been presented as part of discontinued operations.

For the full year 2008, the loss per share from continuing operations was ($8.69) compared to a loss per share from continuing operations of($3.68) for the full year 2007. Adjusted diluted EPS from continuing operations for the full year 2008 were $0.80 compared to adjusted diluted EPS from continuing operations of $1.20 for the full year 2007. Net sales from continuing operations for the full year 2008 were approximately $3.985 billion, a decrease of $457 million, or 10.3%, from the comparable 2007 period, inclusive of a $412 million decrease associated with brands or certain brand activities that have been licensed, closed or exited and have not been presented as part of discontinued operations.

The adjusted results for the fourth quarter and full year 2008 and 2007 exclude the impact of expenses incurred in connection with the Company's streamlining and brand-exiting activities and non-cash goodwill and trademark impairment charges. The Company believes that the adjusted results for the fourth quarter and full year 2008 represent a more meaningful presentation of its historical operations and financial performance since these results provide period to period comparisons that are consistent and more easily understood.

William L. McComb, Chief Executive Officer of Liz Claiborne Inc. said: "We recorded non-cash goodwill impairment charges in the quarter of $382 million in our Domestic-Based Direct Brands segment. These charges were required under the application of the current accounting convention for impairment because our market capitalization declined to a level below our book value, despite the fact that these brands have strong cash flows and our belief that this portfolio has strong long-term growth potential in both sales and earnings. We do not believe our market capitalization today reflects the true long-term value of our company in spite of obvious risk and volatility in the short term resulting from current economic conditions."

"We also recorded a goodwill impairment charge of $301 million in our International-Based Direct Brandssegment. This is also the result of the application of the impairment testing rules and conventions as well as declines in actual and projected segment performance and cash flows. These fourth quarter charges are in addition to the $10 million trademark impairment charges we recorded in the third quarter. None of these impairment charges has any impact on our business operations, cash flows or compliance with the financial covenants under our bank agreement."
Mr. McComb continued: "Fourth quarter adjusted loss per share from continuing operations was ($0.04), within the pre-announced range provided on January 13th. The operating environment in the fourth quarter was extraordinarily difficult as consumer spending was further impacted by deteriorating economic conditions. As our pre-announcement, our comparable store sales for Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand and Kate Spade were each in the negative mid-teens while Mexx's comps were negative 12%. The highly promotional retail environment also negatively impacted margins in both our retail and wholesale businesses. We demonstrated exceptional balance sheet and cash flow management in the quarter as we paid down $175 million in bank debt, primarily driven by aggressive working capital management."

"We generated a 14% reduction in inventory and a 23% reduction in accounts receivable compared to last year, including the impact of brands sold, discontinued, or licensed. We also ended the year with total debt of $744 million, which is below the $750 to $775 million range we guided on our November 13th earnings call and $144 million less than at year-end 2007."

Mr. McComb added, "We are very excited about last week's announcement that we are broadening our successful sourcing relationship with Li & Fung. Li & Fung has unparalleled global reach and product expertise, making them the perfect partner to make our sourcing operation more efficient while allowing us to deliver high quality, more irresistible product to our retailers and consumers around the world. We expect Li & Fung to play a critical role in collaborating with us to drive gross margin improvement across our brands, beginning in the Holiday 2009 season."

Mr. McComb concluded, "Given the lack of visibility caused by the highly uncertain environment, we are not providing full year 2009 EPS guidance. However, our 2009 plan assumes a retail environment similar to the fourth quarter of 2008, throughout 2009. This would produce comp store declines in the 15-25% range for all brands through the third quarter of 2009, with the fourth quarter reported comp flattening as we anniversary the sharp downturn that began in September 2008".

"In terms of adjusted operating profit, we anticipate a meaningful loss in the first quarter, with improvement in each successive quarter as the $70 million in cost reductions we announced in early February flow through over the balance of this year. This translates into a loss during the first half, and positive reported adjusted operating profit for the second half. In addition to the impact of the cost reductions, this plan assumes modest margin expansion in the second half of the year from improving sell through rates on the Liz Claiborne New York business, as well as adapted assortments, pricing and promotional strategies in all the brands."

"We are planning working capital, marketing, and other expenses assuming this retail trend. We are carefully managing our liquidity position and we are focused on maximizing our availability under our bank credit facility. In February, we received a $90 million federal tax refund and we also expect to receive $75 million in cash upon the closing of the Li & Fung transaction by the end of the first quarter, and will receive an additional $8 million to offset the restructuring expenses associated with the transaction."
Liz Claiborne Inc

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