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Ann Taylor posts wide loss in Q4

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New York City AnnTaylor Stores Corp. on Friday reported a far wider loss in its fourth quarter due to hefty restructuring and impairment charges, and a big drop in same-store sales.

The company said it expects to close 163 stores by fiscal 2010, 46 more than the 117 closings announced in January 2008. The chain shuttered 60 stores last year.

For the quarter ended Jan. 31, AnnTaylor had a loss of $375.6 million, compared with a loss of $6.7 million in the year-ago quarter. The company said the results included $317 million in restructuring, goodwill and asset-impairment charges.

Revenue fell nearly 20% to $483.4 million from $600.8 million. Analysts predicted revenue of $488.7 million. Same-store sales dropped 24.5%.

AnnTaylor said its sales were hurt by rising unemployment and declining consumer confidence. The company said it also had to markdown merchandise substantially to clear out inventory, which hurt its margins.

For the year, AnnTaylor had a loss of $333.9 million, compared with a profit of $97.2 million, or $1.53 per share a year ago.

Revenue fell 8% to $2.19 billion, from $2.40 billion.

The company offered no guidance for this year, citing the "volatility and uncertainty in the retail environment" but said it expects the weakness in consumer confidence and spending will persist and keep pressure on revenue.

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