News

Five Below selects JustEnough Software to improve financial and merchandise planning

BY Staff Writer

Newport Beach, Calif. — JustEnough Software, a provider of demand management solutions for retailers, distributors and brand owners worldwide, announced that Five Below has selected its merchandise financial planning solution.

“JustEnough’s simple-to-use, intuitive retail planning solutions make it easier for companies like Five Below to create accurate financial and merchandise plans,” said Malcolm Buxton, president and CEO of JustEnough. “We look forward to providing Five Below with the planning functionality needed to support its continued growth.”

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News

First Insight in agreement with The Limited to provide predictive analytic solution

BY Staff Writer

Pittsburgh — First Insight, which provides predictive analytics generated from online consumer engagements, announced an agreement with The Limited. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The First Insight solution uses online social engagement tools to gather real-time preference, pricing and sentiment data on new products. This information is filtered through First Insight’s predictive analytic models to determine which products present the greatest opportunity.

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FINANCE

Moody’s: U.S. apparel earnings to improve this back-to-school season

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Lower cotton costs will boost the earnings of US retail apparel companies during the coming back-to-school season, according to a report by Moody’s Investors Service.

The report, "Back to School: Lower Cotton Costs, Gas Prices Set Stage for Higher 3Q Earnings,” notes that for the third quarter overall, Moody’s expects the apparel-makers’ growth in earnings to outpace their growth in sales.

"The benefits of lower cotton costs will be evident in the second half of 2012, and this should enable apparel companies to recapture a meaningful portion of the gross margin lost last year when input costs were higher," said Scott Tuhy, a Moody’s VP and senior credit officer. "We expect to see positive operating-earnings trends starting in the back-to-school season, with those companies with meaningful sales in the children and young adult categories benefiting most, along with companies that sell cotton-intensive products."

Apparel-makers likely to benefit most include The Gap, Ascena Retail Group Inc., Hanesbrands Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. Moody’s also expects the discounters Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to benefit as consumers remain cautious and look to save.

Moody’s expects a 2% to 3% increase in third quarter sales for the apparel and specialty-apparel companies that it rates but an 8% to 10% growth in operating earnings.

In the third quarter of 2011, Moody’s-rated apparel retail companies saw their sales rise about 10% compared with third quarter 2010, but operating earnings were essentially flat, as operators were unable to pass through higher input costs, most notably cotton.

Cotton prices peaked at over $2 a pound in 2011. Since then they have fallen over 60% and cotton prices are currently trading at about 70 cents a pound.

Lower gasoline prices will also help back-to-school sales, giving consumers a few more dollars to spend on their children’s clothes, says Moody’s.

The back-to-school season, which lasts from late July to early September, is an important time for apparel retailers. August is the third largest month for sales of clothing and related products, trailing only November and December, which benefit from holiday sales.

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