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Aug 30, 1:03 PM EDT

Abercrombie closing up to 60 stores after posting wider loss



NEW YORK (AP) -- Abercrombie & Fitch Co. reported a wider loss for its second quarter on Tuesday and said it's closing up to 60 stores in the United States as both U.S. and international sales fell.

The teen-focused retailer also offered a downbeat outlook for a key sales measure, as business continues to be hurt by a decline in tourists to its flagships in key cities. The closures will represent about 8 percent of its store count in the domestic market. Abercrombie's shares tumbled more than 20 percent in midday trading.

Abercrombie, once a top destination for teens, has struggled to adjust as its customers increasingly shop on their phones and other mobile devices, and shift more to fast-fashion chains like H&M. The retailer is changing its marketing to play down its sexy image, and last year got rid of provocative pictures on its shopping bags and bare-chested male models greeting customers at the door. It also gave employees more freedom to dress how they wish, ditching its "look policy" that banned eyeliner and certain hairstyles among other rules.

Indications had been that moves to make over its merchandise were gaining speed. But the latest results underscore that the decline in visitor spending in U.S. is overshadowing efforts that the company is making to spruce up its business.

"As we look to the rest of the year, we now expect flagship and tourist locations will continue to weigh on the business," Executive Chairman Arthur Martinez said in a statement.

Martinez said the company expects to see "traction" from its investments in marketing and new products. But Abercrombie also says it now expects revenue at stores open at least a year to remain "challenging" through the second half of the year because of lower tourist spending.

The New Albany, Ohio-based company lost $13.1 million, or 19 cents per share in the quarter, compared with a loss of $810,000, or 1 cent per share, a year earlier. Losses adjusted for non-recurring gains came to 25 cents per share. Revenue fell 4 percent to $783.2 million.

Those results failed to meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 23 cents per share, while 10 analysts expected revenue of $788.6 million.

Abercrombie shares dropped $4.69 to $18.26 in midday trading. They had decreased 15 percent since the beginning of the year.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on ANF at http://www.zacks.com/ap/ANF

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Keywords: Abercrombie & Fitch, Earnings Report

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