The hot streak at

American Eagle


showed no sign of cooling Wednesday after the teen-clothing chain reported blowout February comps and guided first-quarter earnings higher.

The company, whose stock rose 190% in 2004, also said fourth-quarter earnings roughly tripled from a year ago to $101.2 million, or $1.32 a share, on a 37% sales increase to $674 million. On a continuing basis, the company earned $1.40 a share in the quarter, a penny better than estimates.

American Eagle is benefiting from significant margin expansion as well as the higher sales. Gross profit as a percentage of sales was 49.0% in the latest quarter compared with 38.5% a year ago.

The fourth quarter ended Jan. 29. For February, American Eagle said same-store sales rose 32.4%, about twice the Wall Street consensus estimate. The company bumped up first-quarter guidance to 52 cents to 54 cents a share; its old guidance was 43 cents to 45 cents a share and Wall Street was predicting 47 cents a share.

On Instinet, the stock was recently up $2.10, or 3.8%, to $57.40, leaving it up about 22% year to date.

The report follows similarly strong news last night from

Pacific Sunwear