Jones Group hits 18-month low on weak results

Jones
NEW YORK | Fri Jan 21, 2011 - (Reuters) - Jones Group Inc (JNY.N) shares hit their lowest point in nearly 18 months a day after the apparel and footwear company reported weak preliminary holiday quarter results and warned it would struggle with high cotton costs in 2011.

Shares in Jones Group, whose brands include Nine West, Jones New York and Anne Klein, were down 11 percent to $12.21 in morning trading on Friday, their lowest point since July 30, 2009.

Jones said on Thursday after the market closed that it expects its fourth quarter earnings to fall short of expectations.

The company will report definitive quarterly results on February 9.

Chief Executive Wesley Card said in a statement on Thursday that consumers would resist higher price tags on clothes despite the sharp increase in cotton prices, and that consumers still needed deep discounts to shop during the recent holiday season.

Earlier this month, rival Liz Claiborne Inc (LIZ.N), whose shares fell 2.8 percent on Friday, also said discounts to woo shoppers had hurt December sales.

Cotton prices nearly doubled in 2010 forcing retailers to choose between losing sales if shoppers balk at higher prices, or taking a hit to margins.

In October 27, Jones Group reported third quarter results that also missed Wall Street forecasts, sending shares plummeting.

"The stock is unlikely to get much support until it stops missing expectations," Lazard analyst Todd Slater said in a note to clients on Friday.

Shares have fallen by nearly half since late April.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Derek Caney)

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