What’s in a name? For Ascena Retail Group (ASNA), formerly The Dress Barn, plenty. The newly rebranded company is a sales machine. Ascena’s three key brands are now Dressbarn, Maurices, and Justice. These three run 2,500 retail stores nationwide that cater to women and tween girls. Analysts give Ascena high marks for good results.
Why? Because Ascena has doubled revenues during the past five years. In the fiscal third quarter, sales rose 9 percent to $772.8 million from $722.8 million a year ago. Same-store existing sales, a key retail indicator of brand health, rose 6 percent.
All divisions are performing well. At Maurices, which was added five years ago, sales rocketed 17 percent in the third quarter. At Justice, acquired last year, sales climbed 6 percent. And Dressbarn notched a 5 percent sales increase in a more mature market.
More growth to come
Ascena has lots of fans these days. Of the 10 analysts tracked by Thomson/First Call, six have strong buy recommendations and two have buys, with only two holds.
Piper Jaffray analysts agree. They have an overweight rating on Ascena, citing a 15 percent annual earnings per share growth spurt for several years. One driver is the synergies between brands, they say.
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