updated 11/18/2010 7:15:39 AM ET 2010-11-18T12:15:39

SECAUCUS, N.J., Nov. 18, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq:PLCE),the largest pure-play children's specialty apparel retailer in North America, today announced third quarter net sales of $453.4 million for the thirteen weeks ended October 30, 2010, a 2.1% decline compared to $463.2 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2009.

Comparable retail sales, which include online sales, declined 5.7% in the third quarter of fiscal 2010 compared to a decline of 1.6% the previous year. During the third quarter of fiscal 2010, comparable store sales declined 8.8% in the U.S. and 7.9% in Canada, while comparable online sales increased 33.0%.

Income from continuing operations after tax was $31.2 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, in the third quarter of fiscal 2010, including a $0.04 per share benefit resulting from the Company's repurchase of 1.7 million shares during the quarter. In the third quarter of fiscal 2009, income from continuing operations after tax was $38.2 million, or $1.38 per diluted share.

"As we announced mid-October, third quarter sales and profits for The Children's Place were impacted by poorly performing fashion in the back-to-school line as well as unseasonably warm temperatures," commented Jane Elfers, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Children's Place. "While short-term market conditions remain challenging for our business, we are making significant progress on our longer-term growth initiatives which we believe will lead to enhanced sales and profitability in 2011 and beyond."

During the third quarter of fiscal 2010, the Company opened 28 stores.

Fiscal Year-to-Date

Net sales from continuing operations were $1,220.8 million fiscal year-to-date 2010, a 3.4% increase compared to $1,180.8 million for the same period last year. Comparable retail sales declined 1.1% fiscal year-to-date 2010 compared to a 2.7% decline last year.

Income from continuing operations after tax was $50.9 million, or $1.83 per diluted share, fiscal year-to-date 2010, including a $0.02 per share benefit from the share repurchase program announced on August 19, 2010. This compares to income from continuing operations after tax of $54.7 million, or $1.88 per diluted share, fiscal year-to-date 2009, which included several transactions that affect comparability between the years. Excluding those items that affect comparability from fiscal year-to-date 2009, adjusted income from continuing operations after tax was $47.3 million, or $1.63 per share. Adjusted income from continuing operations is a non-GAAP measure which the Company is providing as a supplemental disclosure. A reconciliation of income from continuing operations as reported is included in Table 3 of this press release.

Fiscal year-to-date, the Company has opened 62 stores and closed four.

Share Repurchase Program

On August 19, 2010, the Company announced that the Board of Directors had authorized a share repurchase program in the amount of $100.0 million. Under the program, the Company may repurchase shares in the open market at current market prices at the time of purchase or in privately negotiated transactions. The timing and actual number of shares repurchased under the program depends on a variety of factors including price, corporate and regulatory requirements, and other market conditions, and the Company may suspend or discontinue the program at any time.

During the third quarter, the Company repurchased 1.7 million shares for approximately $80.0 million. Subsequent to the third quarter and through November 17, 2010, the Company repurchased an additional 0.2 million shares for approximately $8.5 million, which brought the year-to-date total under the share repurchase program to approximately $88.5 million.

Outlook

The Company updated its guidance for fiscal 2010 and now projects earnings per diluted share from continuing operations will be in the range of $2.78 to $2.83 for fiscal 2010, including a $0.07 per share benefit from the 1.9 million shares repurchased through November 17, 2010, down from its previous guidance of $3.08 to $3.18. The Company provided initial guidance for earnings per diluted share from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2010 to be in the range of $0.98 to $1.03, including a $0.07 per share benefit from the 1.9 million shares repurchased through November 17, 2010. The earnings guidance assumes negative low-single digit comparable retail sales during the fourth quarter and assumes that currency exchange rates will remain where they are today. This guidance does not include the impact of further potential share repurchases during the fourth quarter.

Conference Call Information

The Children's Place will host a conference call to discuss its third quarter 2010 results today at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The call will be broadcast live at http://investor.childrensplace.com . An audio archive will be available approximately one hour after the conclusion of the call.

About The Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc.

The Children's Place is the largest pure-play children's specialty apparel retailer in North America. The Company designs, contracts to manufacture and sells fashionable, high-quality merchandise at value prices under the proprietary "The Children's Place" brand name. As of October 30, 2010, the Company owned and operated 1,005 stores and an online store at www.childrensplace.com .

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release (and above referenced call) may contain certain forward-looking statements regarding future circumstances, including statements relating to the Company's positioning, and forecasts regarding earnings per diluted share for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2010. These forward-looking statements are based upon the Company's current expectations and assumptions and are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. Some of these risks and uncertainties are described in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the "Risk Factors" section of its annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 30, 2010. Included among the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, events and performance to differ materially are the risk that the Company will be unsuccessful in gauging fashion trends and changing consumer preferences, and the risks resulting from the highly competitive nature of the Company's business and its dependence on consumer spending patterns, which may be affected by a downturn in the economy. Readers (or listeners on the call) are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they were made. The Company undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. The inclusion of any statement in this release does not constitute an admission by the Company or any other person that the events or circumstances described in such statement are material.

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