American Eagle ($NYSE:AEO) has had a rough go of it on markets as of late, with shares losing more than a third of their value over the last 12 months. With the prospect of a lingering Coronavirus outbreak threatening malls' foot traffic, and even American Eagle's viability, what the company has to say about guidance and expectations on its earnings call later this week may do more to bolster investors' confidence than a surprise holiday beat. 

At the end of 2018, American Eagle cut about 49% of job postings; at the end of last year, that figure rose to 74% - although, in both cases, job postings clearly rose immediately once the new year began. It may be a signal that American Eagle is trying to get more done with fewer staffers - in which case, investors may be pleased with growing headroom. On the other hand, it could be a sign that the company overhired, even compared to prior years, for what was a disappointing holiday season - the tape will tell the tale March 4. 

At the same time, American Eagle was taking more steps to make sure it was hiring efficiently, it was in growth mode, too. Our chart (above) tracks American Eagle's pace of growth, which is up about 16% over the space of a little less than four years' time. And, below, our map tracks American Eagle's global footprint. 

To, hopefully, the surprise of no one, American Eagle operations are mostly in America, which is helping some companies create a unique advantage as so many US businesses with newly-launched arms focused on the Chinese consumer are facing uncertainty and unprofitability in the wake of the global Coronavirus outbreak.

Still, should US commerce grind to a stand-still like Chinese markets did earlier in Q1, American Eagle's dependence on malls may yet post a threat to its top line still. 

American Eagle will announce earnings on March 4; analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are looking for EPS of $0.36. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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