A&F Weathers Bad Publicity

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Negative publicity that swirled around Abercrombie & Fitch during a period in which the company said it would stop publishing its A&F Quarterly with the Christmas issue -- which included advice on oral sex and group sex -- apparently didn't dent its recent overall performance.

The New Albany, OH, company said yesterday that net sales in the 13 weeks ended Jan. 31 increased 5 percent to $560.4 million from $534.5 million in the 13 weeks ended Feb. 1, 2003. But comparable-store sales dropped 11 percent in the quarter.

Net income for the quarter rose 2 percent to $94.3 million from $92.8 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002.

Also reported was a net sales increase during the year of 7 percent to $1.71 billion from $1.6 billion in the previous year. This occurred as comparable-store sales fell 9 percent. Net income in the year was up 5 percent to $205.1 million from $194.9 million in the prior year.

The pre-holiday season publicity also included the Dec. 7 airing of a "60 Minutes" report that included allegations of racial discrimination in its hiring practices. It also was the subject of a boycott by a Christian organization.


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