UPDATE 3-Apparel discounts hurt Express forecast; shares slump
* Sees 1st-quarter earnings $0.12-$0.18/shr vs est $0.41/shr
* Forecasts fall in comparable store sales
* 4th-quarter earnings $0.57/shr vs est $0.59/shr
* Rise in store traffic not imminent - CEO
* Shares fall as much as 14.5 pct (Adds CEO, CFO comments, background; updates shares)
By Shailaja Sharma and Aditi Shrivastava
March 12 (Reuters) - Apparel retailer Express Inc said it expected its profit to slide by more than half in the current quarter, blaming deep discounts and a decline in store traffic.
Shares of Express, formerly a division of L Brands Inc , fell as much as 14.5 percent in early trading after the company's fourth-quarter results missed analysts' average estimate.
"Our first-quarter guidance reflects year-to-date traffic and comparable sales as well as our belief that a material uptick in traffic is not necessarily imminent," Chief Executive Michael Weiss said in a statement. Continued...