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Liz Claiborne Inc. Reports 4th Quarter and Full Year Results

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Liz Claiborne Inc. Reports 4th Quarter and Full Year Results

-- Reports full year 2011 pro-forma adjusted EBITDA of $82 million, in-line with guidance, excluding foreign currency transaction losses

-- Reaffirms 2012 adjusted EBITDA guidance of $125 to $140 million, excluding foreign currency transaction gains or losses

-- Reports Q4 GAAP earnings per share from continuing operations of $2.04 and adjusted earnings per share of $0.10

-- Realizes strong season to date direct to consumer comparable sales for new Spring merchandise at Juicy Couture

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Feb. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Liz Claiborne Inc. (NYSE: LIZ) today announced earnings for the fourth quarter of 2011. For the fourth quarter of 2011 on a GAAP basis, income from continuing operations was $245 million, or $2.04 per diluted share, compared to income from continuing operations of $14 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2010. Income from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2011 was driven primarily by a $271 million gain on the sales of: (i) the global trademark rights for the Liz Claiborne family of brands; (ii) the trademark rights in the US and Puerto Rico for Monet; and (iii) the Dana Buchman trademark.

Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations for the fourth quarter was $0.10, compared to adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations of $0.14 for the fourth quarter of 2010 (inclusive of unrealized foreign currency gains of $0.04 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011 and $0.08 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010).

Pro-forma adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2011 was $56 million, compared to $44 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 (excluding unrealized foreign currency gains of $7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 and $14 million in the fourth quarter of 2010).

Net sales for the fourth quarter were $447 million, a decrease of $12 million, or 2.6%, from the comparable 2010 period. Pro-forma adjusted net sales, excluding the impact of net sales associated with brands that have been sold or exited but not accounted for as discontinued operations, increased 11.5% compared to the fourth quarter of 2010.

The Company also announced January and month to date February 2012 direct to consumer comparable sales as follows:


Brand

January

February
MTD *

Lucky Brand

29%

21%

kate spade

30%

16%

Juicy Couture

(8%)

(2%)




*    Results are through February 25th, are preliminary and subject to month-end closing adjustments.

For the full year of 2011, the Company recorded income from continuing operations of $145 million, or $1.28 per share, compared to a loss from continuing operations for the full year of 2010 of ($99) million, or ($1.05) per share. Adjusted loss per share from continuing operations in the full year of 2011 was ($0.32) compared to an adjusted loss per share from continuing operations of ($0.07) in the full year of 2010 (inclusive of unrealized foreign currency gains (losses) of ($0.02) per share in the full year of 2011 and $0.16 per share in the full year of 2010, respectively).

Net sales for the full year of 2011 were $1.519 billion, a decrease of $105 million, or 6.4%, from the comparable 2010 period.  Pro-forma adjusted net sales, excluding the impact of net sales associated with brands that have been sold or exited but not accounted for as discontinued operations, increased 11.2% compared to the full year of 2010.

William L. McComb, Chief Executive Officer of Liz Claiborne Inc., said: "Pro-forma adjusted EBITDA, excluding foreign currency transaction gains or losses, of $56 million in the fourth quarter and $82 million for the full year 2011, were in line with our recently-provided outlook. We ended the year with net debt of $266, in line with our previously forecasted range of $265 to $270 million. We have continued to strengthen our balance sheet, utilizing cash on hand to purchase 140 million euro of our 5% Euro Notes since November, leaving us with 81.5 million Euro Notes outstanding today, which mature in July 2013. For fiscal 2012, we continue to forecast adjusted EBITDA, excluding foreign currency transaction gains or losses, in the range of $125 to $140 million."

Mr. McComb continued, "We are focused on maximizing the growth opportunities in our three global lifestyle brands – Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand and kate spade. January and month to date February direct-to-consumer comparable sales were in line overall with our expectations. The strong momentum at kate spade is continuing, with the brand posting comps of 30% in January and 16% for the February month to date period, as the kate team continues to execute the brand's growth strategies across all channels, product categories and geographies. Lucky Brand's strong direct-to-consumer sales trend also continued, with the brand posting comps of 29% in January and 21% for the February month-to-date period, driven by continued strong consumer response to their product offer and retail execution.  And Juicy Couture is showing very encouraging sales trends right now.  The brand reported an overall comp of (8%) in January and (2%) for the February month to date period—largely reflecting a lack of meaningful clearance activity that was in the year ago base. Spring merchandise, delivered since early January, is actually generating strong season-to-date direct-to-consumer comparable sales increases compared to Spring merchandise in the year ago period. These sales trends and the associated gross margin expansion make us optimistic about the year ahead."

Mr. McComb concluded, "You see in today's press release and 10-K filing that we have revised our segment reporting to provide greater disclosure of brand level performance. We believe this is the right approach as the brands execute their growth strategies, and this reporting structure is consistent with how we manage the businesses. We also announced earlier this month the appointment of David Bassuk as Co-President and Chief Operating Officer at Juicy Couture. Our global brand teams are now fully in place, with strong shareholder aligned long term incentive plans."

The adjusted results for the full year and fourth quarter of 2011 and 2010, as well as forward-looking targets, exclude the impact of expenses incurred in connection with the Company's streamlining initiatives and brand-exiting activities, non-cash impairment charges, gain (loss) on extinguishment of debt and non-cash write-offs of debt issuance costs. The Company believes that the adjusted results for such periods 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. The attached tables, captioned "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Information", provide a full reconciliation of actual results to the adjusted results. We present EBITDA, which we define as income (loss) from continuing operations attributable to Liz Claiborne, Inc., adjusted to exclude income tax provision (benefit), interest expense, net, gain (loss) on extinguishment of debt, gain on sales of trademarks and depreciation and amortization. We also present (i) Adjusted EBITDA, which is EBITDA adjusted to exclude the impact of expenses incurred in connection with the Company's streamlining initiatives and brand-exiting activities, non-cash impairment charges and non-cash share-based compensation expense; (ii) Adjusted EBITDA excluding foreign currency gains (losses), net, which is Adjusted EBITDA further adjusted to exclude unrealized foreign currency gains (losses), net; and (iii) Adjusted Pro-Forma EBITDA excluding foreign currency gains (losses), net, which is Adjusted EBITDA excluding foreign currency transaction gains (losses), net, further adjusted to exclude the Adjusted EBITDA associated with each of the following businesses: Liz Claiborne/JCPenney apparel and handbags; Axcess; DKNY® Jeans; Dana Buchman apparel; and our former Curve fragrance brand and related brands. We present the above-described EBITDA measures because we consider them important supplemental measures of our performance and believe they are frequently used by securities analysts, investors and other interested parties in the evaluation of companies in our industry. Unless otherwise noted, references to loss from continuing operations, net loss and adjusted loss from continuing operations and associated per share amounts refer to such amounts attributable to Liz Claiborne Inc., which excludes amounts associated with noncontrolling interests.

The Company will sponsor a conference call at 10:00am EST today to discuss its results for the fourth quarter of 2011. The dial-in number is 1-888-694-4676 with pass code 46712992. The web cast and slides accompanying the prepared remarks can be accessed via the Investor Relations section of the Liz Claiborne website at www.lizclaiborneinc.com. An archive of the webcast will be available on the website. Additional information on the results of the Company's operations is available in the Company's Form 10-K for fiscal 2011, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

FOURTH QUARTER RESULTS

During the fourth quarter of 2011, we determined that we would disaggregate our former Domestic-Based Direct Brands segment into three reportable segments, Juicy Couture, kate spade and Lucky Brand. The operations of our former Partnered Brands segment have become our Adelington Design Group & Other segment. Our former International-Based Direct Brands segment includes allocated corporate expenses that could not be reported as discontinued operations and therefore continue to be reported in our segment results.

Overall Results

Net sales from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2011 were $447 million, a decrease of $12 million, or 2.6% from the fourth quarter of 2010, reflecting (i) an increase in sales in our kate spade and Lucky Brand segments; and (ii) a decline in sales in our Juicy Couture and Adelington Design Group and Other segments, including a $28 million decrease in sales of brands that have been licensed or exited.

Gross profit as a percentage of net sales was 53.8% in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to 51.5% in the comparable 2010 period, primarily reflecting improved full price sell through of our brands overall and a higher percentage of direct to consumer sales which run at a higher gross profit rate than the Company average, partially offset by the impact of higher raw material costs in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to 2010.

Selling, general & administrative expenses ("SG&A") were $270 million, or 60.4% of net sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to $222 million, or 48.4% of net sales in the fourth quarter of 2010. The $48 million increase in SG&A compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 primarily reflected a $32 million increase in streamlining expenses (the majority of which was related to sold or exited businesses and the outsourcing of our distribution function). The remaining $16 million increase in expenses was related to growth initiatives (new retail stores, e-commerce and marketing) and overhead.

Operating loss was ($30) million ((6.7%) of net sales) in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to operating income of $14 million (3.1% of net sales) in the fourth quarter of 2010. Adjusted operating income in the fourth quarter of 2011 was $17 million (3.8% of adjusted net sales) compared to adjusted operating income of $23 million (5.1% of net sales) in 2010.

Other income, net was $7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to $14 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, primarily reflecting (i) foreign currency transaction gains and losses on our Euro Notes and other foreign currency denominated assets and liabilities; and (ii) equity in earnings of our investments in equity investees.

Gains on sale of trademarks, net was $271 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, resulting from the sales of: (i) the global trademark rights for the Liz Claiborne family of brands; (ii) the trademark rights in the US and Puerto Rico for Monet and (iii) the Dana Buchman trademark.

Interest expense, net increased to $14 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $12 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, primarily reflecting interest expense related to the Senior Notes, which were issued in April 2011, partially offset by a decrease in interest expense due to the tender of 129 million euro of our Euro Notes and decreased borrowings on our bank credit facility.

(Benefit) provision for income taxes was ($11) million in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $2 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. The benefit in the fourth quarter of 2011 primarily represented decreases in deferred tax liabilities for indefinite-lived intangible assets, current tax on operations in certain jurisdictions and a decrease in the accrual for uncertain tax positions.

Income from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2011 was $245 million, or $2.04 per share, compared to $14 million, or $0.13 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010. Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2011 was $0.10, compared to adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations of $0.14 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Net income (loss) in the fourth quarter of 2011 was $229 million, inclusive of losses related to discontinued operations of ($15) million, compared to a net loss of ($30) million, inclusive of losses related to discontinued operations of ($44) million, in the fourth quarter of 2010. Income per share was $1.91 in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to a loss per share of ($0.28) in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Balance Sheet and Cash Flow

Accounts receivable decreased $89 million, or 42.5%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, primarily due to the inclusion of Mexx in the fourth quarter of 2010 in addition to decreased wholesale sales in our Adelington Design Group and Other and Juicy Couture segments.

Inventories decreased $96 million, or 33.2%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, primarily due to: (i) the year-over-year impact of decreased sales in our Adelington Design Group & Other segment and (ii) the impact of brands that have been licensed or exited. The decrease in inventories was partially offset by an increase in kate spade inventory to support growth initiatives, including retail store expansion.

Cash flow from continuing operating activities for the last twelve months was $119 million.

Debt outstanding decreased to $446 million compared to $578 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. We ended 2011 with $181 million in cash and marketable securities, compared to $23 million at the end of 2010. The $289 million decrease in our net debt position (total debt less cash and marketable securities) over the last twelve months primarily reflected: (i) the repurchase of 228.5 million euro of the 5% Euro Notes; (ii) the repayment of all outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility with proceeds from the sale of an 81.25% interest in the global Mexx business and other disposition transactions; and (iii) the conversion of $20.8 million aggregate principal amount of the Convertible Notes into 6,163,221 shares of our common stock. These decreases were partially offset by (i) the issuance of $220 million of Senior Notes and (ii) the use of cash to fund $77 million of capital and in-store shop expenditures, including $23 million to purchase our Ohio distribution center under the terms of the previously existing synthetic lease agreement. The effect of changes in foreign currency exchange rates on our Euro Notes decreased our debt balance by $5 million compared to the fourth quarter of 2010.

Segment Highlights

Net sales and operating income (loss) for our reportable segments are provided below:

Net sales for Juicy Couture were $161 million, a 15.4% decrease compared to 2010, primarily driven by decreases in wholesale apparel, specialty retail and non-apparel, partially offset by increases in our outlet and e-commerce operations. Store counts and key operating metrics are as follows:

  • We ended the quarter with 78 specialty retail stores, 51 outlet stores and 5 concessions, reflecting the net addition over the last 12 months of 4 specialty retail stores and the net closure of 1 outlet store;  
  • Average retail square footage in the fourth quarter was approximately 433 thousand square feet, a 10% increase compared to 2010;
  • Sales per square foot for comparable stores for the latest twelve months were $666; and
  • Comparable direct to consumer sales (inclusive of e-commerce and concessions) decreased by 8% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Juicy Couture segment operating income in the fourth quarter was $8 million (4.8% of net sales), compared to operating income of $24 million (12.8% of net sales) in 2010. Juicy Couture segment adjusted operating income in the fourth quarter was $11 million (7.1% of net sales), compared to adjusted operating income of $26 million (13.8% of net sales) in 2010.

Net sales for Lucky Brand were $137 million, a 23.2% increase compared to 2010, primarily driven by increases in wholesale apparel, specialty retail, e-commerce and outlet. Store counts and key operating metrics are as follows:

  • We ended the quarter with 179 specialty retail stores and 42 outlet stores, reflecting the net closure over the last 12 months of 10 specialty retail stores and the net addition of 4 outlet stores;  
  • Average retail square footage in the fourth quarter was approximately 560 thousand square feet, a 1.0% decrease compared to 2010;
  • Sales per square foot for comparable stores for the latest twelve months were $429; and
  • Comparable direct to consumer sales (inclusive of e-commerce) increased 20% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Lucky Brand segment operating income in the fourth quarter was $5 million (3.8% of net sales), compared to an operating loss of ($10) million ((9.0%) of net sales) in 2010. Lucky Brand segment adjusted operating income in the fourth quarter was $10 million (7.4% of net sales), compared to an adjusted operating loss of ($9) million ((7.7%) of net sales) in 2010.

Net sales for kate spade were $110 million, a 73.4% increase compared to 2010, driven by increases in e-commerce, specialty retail, outlet, wholesale non-apparel and wholesale apparel. Store counts and key operating metrics are as follows:

  • We ended the quarter with 50 specialty retail stores and 29 outlet stores, reflecting the net addition  over the last 12 months of 6 specialty retail stores;  
  • Average retail square footage in the fourth quarter was approximately 152 thousand square feet, a 6.7% increase compared to 2010;
  • Sales per square foot for comparable stores for the latest twelve months were $955; and
  • Comparable direct to consumer sales (inclusive of e-commerce) increased 58% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

kate spade segment operating income in the fourth quarter was $12 million (10.8% of net sales), compared to operating income of $7 million (10.8% of net sales) in 2010. kate spade segment adjusted operating income in the fourth quarter was $13 million (12.0% of net sales), compared to adjusted operating income of $7 million (11.3% of net sales) in 2010.

Net sales for the Adelington Design Group and Other segment decreased $55 million, or 58.4%, in the fourth quarter to $39 million, related principally to the impact of exited businesses and the sale of the Liz Claiborne family of brands and Monet trademarks early in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Adelington Design Group and Other segment operating loss in the fourth quarter was ($54) million ((136.8%) of net sales), compared to an operating loss of ($6) million ((6.0%) of net sales) in 2010. Adelington Design Group and Other segment adjusted operating loss in the fourth quarter was ($17) million ((37.8%) of adjusted net sales), compared to adjusted operating income of $0.2 million (0.2% of net sales) in 2010.

About Liz Claiborne, Inc.

Liz Claiborne Inc. designs and markets a portfolio of retail-based, premium, global lifestyle brands including Juicy Couture, kate spade, and Lucky Brand. In addition, the Adelington Design Group, a private brand jewelry design and development division, markets brands through department stores and serves jcpenney via exclusive supplier agreements for the Liz Claiborne and Monet jewelry lines and Kohl's via an exclusive supplier agreement for Dana Buchman jewelry. The Company also has licenses for the Liz Claiborne New York brand, available at QVC and Lizwear, which is distributed through the club store channel. Liz Claiborne Inc. maintains an 18.75% stake in Mexx, a European and Canadian apparel and accessories retail-based brand. The Company anticipates that its name change to Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. and the trading under its new stock symbol (NYSE: FNP) will become effective on or about May 15, 2012. Additional information and updates will also be posted on the new corporate website: www.fifthandpacific.com.

Liz Claiborne, Inc. Forward-Looking Statement

Statements contained herein that relate to the Company's future performance, financial condition, liquidity or business or any future event or action are forward-looking statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are indicated by words or phrases such as "intend," "anticipate," "plan," "estimate," "target," "forecast," "project," "expect," "believe," "we are optimistic that we can," "current visibility indicates that we forecast" or "currently envisions" and similar phrases. Such statements are based on current expectations only, are not guarantees of future performance, and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. The Company may change its intentions, belief or expectations at any time and without notice, based upon any change in the Company's assumptions or otherwise. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, estimated or projected. In addition, some risks and uncertainties involve factors beyond the Company's control. Among the risks and uncertainties are the following: our ability to continue to have the necessary liquidity, through cash flows from operations, and availability under our amended and restated revolving credit facility may be adversely impacted by a number of factors, including the level of our operating cash flows, our ability to maintain established levels of availability under, and to comply with the financial and other covenants included in, our amended and restated revolving credit facility and the borrowing base requirement in our amended and restated revolving credit facility that limits the amount of borrowings we may make based on a formula of, among other things, eligible accounts receivable and inventory and the minimum availability covenant in our amended and restated revolving credit facility that requires us to maintain availability in excess of an

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