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Gap Reports Downbeat Profit Guidance, Drop in September Sales--Update

10/08/2015 | 09:46pm US/Eastern
By George Stahl 

Gap Inc. said total sales in September fell 1%, hurt by the stronger dollar and weakness at Banana Republic, and gave downbeat guidance on the company's expected profitability in the current quarter.

The retailer said it now expects its gross margin rate for the third quarter to be similar to the second quarter. In the July quarter, Gap had a gross margin of 37.4%; analysts were expecting 39.6% for the current quarter.

Shares of Gap, down 31% over the past 12 months, fell 5.9% to $27.25 in after-hours trading.

Total sales for the five weeks ended Saturday was $1.46 billion, down from $1.48 billion a year ago. On a constant-currency basis, September sales rose 2% from a year ago.

Chief Financial Officer Sabrina Simmons called the month "challenging" in the company's news release.

Excluding stores newly opened or closed, sales at Gap Inc. stores slipped 1%, better than the 1.6% drop estimated by data tracker RetailMetrics.

At the company's different brands, same-store sales were flat at the namesake Gap stores, fell 10% at Banana Republic and rose 4% at Old Navy.

RetailMetrics had projected same-store sales to fall 6.2% at Gap's namesake stores, drop 5.6% at Banana Republic and rise 5.6% at Old Navy. The firm noted that the Gap stores had their strongest same-store sales result since April, while Banana Republic had its third-straight double-digit percentage decline.

Write to George Stahl at george.stahl@wsj.com

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