Billabong slumps on $537m loss

Shares in Billabong have fallen back toward their all-time low after the surfwear retailer suffered a $537 million first half loss.

The company has also downgraded its expectations for underlying earnings in the full financial year, with retail conditions still poor, particularly in Europe.

Billabong's net loss in the six months to December 31 compares to a $16.1 million profit in the previous corresponding period.

It was caused primarily by $567 million in impairments to the company's brands and value, taken as part of its company-wide restructure.

Billabong shares hit a low of 84.5 cents after the result was released on Friday, close to its lowest ever price of 79 cents.

At 1041 AEDT the price had recovered a little to be at 87 cents, down four cents, or 4.4 per cent.

Friday's result comes as Billabong continues talks with two parties that have made takeover offers, and due diligence is scheduled to conclude at the end of March.

In January, the company received a joint takeover bid from US retailer VF Corporation - owner of The North Face and Timberland outdoor clothing brands - and investment firm Altamont Capital Partners.

The $523 million offer matched an offer received in December from the Sycamore consortium led by US-based Billabong executive Paul Naude.

Because of weaker-than-expected sales in the year to date, Billabong now anticipates its underlying earnings in the year to June 30 will be between $74 million and $85 million, down from its previous guidance of $85 million to $92 million.

Chief executive Launa Inman also said the benefits of the company's reduction in stores and suppliers would not be seen in the 2012/13 financial year.

No interim dividend will be paid.

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