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Limited Brands Profit Jumps

Retail conglomerate Limited Brands (LTD) posted an increase in second-quarter earnings Thursday -- easily beating the consensus estimate -- on a 10% jump in total sales.

In addition, the company backed analysts' third-quarter consensus estimate and upped its full-year forecast, given the strength in the latest quarter. But the retailer also noted that August apparel sales have been below plan and said overall same-store sales are so far weaker-than-expected in the month.

Columbus, Ohio-based Limited earned $148 million, or 31 cents a share, in the quarter ended July 31, compared with $102 million, or 19 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. On an adjusted basis, earnings in the most recent quarter were $137.3 million, or 29 cents a share, the company said. Adjusted results exclude a pre-tax gain of 2 cents a share from the company's sale of its remaining interest in Galyan's Trading (GLYN).

The operator of Express, Express Men, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and Henri Bendel stores had sales in the latest quarter of $2.21 billion, up from $2.01 last year. Same-store sales increased 9%.

Analysts were calling for a profit of 25 cents a share on sales of $2.187 billion in the quarter.

Shares of Limited were rising 35 cents, or 1.7%, at $20.60 in Thursday premarket trading, approaching their 52-week intraday high of $21.65 reached on April 27.

Limited said it is comfortable with the First Call consensus for 6 cents a share in the third quarter. That would compare with a profit of 4 cents a share in the third quarter last year.

Yet, the company said August same-store sales are below plan and could be up in the low single digits due to weaker apparel sales. August same-store sales will be released in early September.

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