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) --

Jones Apparel


reported an 11% jump in third-quarter profit, even as sales remain weak.

During the quarter, the owner of Nine West and Jones New York earned $30.4 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with $27.3 million, or 33 cents, in the year-ago period.

Excluding severance costs from layoffs earlier in the year and other items, the company actually earned 46 cents a share, significantly higher than the 28 cents analysts had expected.

But revenue still slipped 11% to $855.7 million from $964.7 million last year.

The company has slashed inventory by 24% and closed 69 underperforming stores. Management says it is on track to shutter another 265 stores between this year and next.

As a result of the closures, Jones expects to improve results by $4 million in 2009, $16 million in 2010 and $22 million in 2011.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York

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