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Children's Place 9-week Comps Rise; Lifts Q4, FY17 Earings View Above Market

The Children's Place, Inc. (PLCE), the largest pure-play children's specialty apparel retailer in North America, reported Monday its comparable retail sales for the first nine weeks of the fourth quarter increased 8.5%, on top of a positive 6.9% last year.

The company said it achieved positive comparable retail sales in all channels and geographies, with U.S. business generating positive comparable retail sales of 8.4% and Canadian business generating positive comparable retail sales of 9.4%.

Jane Elfers, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "All of our key retail selling metrics increased - AUR, ADS, UPT, transactions and conversion. And importantly, our sequential improvement in store traffic versus the third quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2016 was significant. Based on these results, we are increasing our fourth quarter and fiscal year 2017 guidance for comparable retail sales and adjusted diluted EPS."

Looking ahead, for the fourth quarter, the company now expects adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $2.45 and $2.50. This compares to the company's previous guidance for adjusted earnings per share of $2.07 to $2.12 and to last year's adjusted earnings per share of $1.88.

On average, 10 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect earnings of $2.17 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

This guidance assumes a comparable retail sales increase of approximately 7.5% to 8.5% for the quarter, compared to previous guidance of a low single digit increase and last year's 6.9% increase.

Further, the company now expects adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $7.83 to $7.88. This compares to previous guidance of $7.46 to $7.51 per share. Both guidance ranges include a $0.91 benefit resulting from new accounting rules for the income tax impact on share-based compensation. Excluding the benefit from the new accounting rules, full year adjusted earnings per share is projected to increase 27% to 28% compared to $5.43 per share last year.

Analysts expect earnings of $7.53 per share for the year.

The company also announced that it will participate at the 2018 ICR Conference in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday January 9th, 2018.

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