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Books Fly Off Shelves at Borders

Same-store sales at domestic superstores are up 2.2% for the quarter to date.
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said revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter to date has risen 1.4% from a year ago to $1.3 billion, while comparable sales at its namesake superstores have been better than expected.

Total sales at Borders stores from Oct. 23 through Jan. 8 climbed 4.1% to $800.5 million. Comp sales at domestic superstores are up 2.2% for the quarter to date, surpassing the bookseller's forecast that they would be unchanged to down in the low-single digits.

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Quarter-to-date sales at the company's Waldenbooks chain fell 8.3% to $279.2 million, which Borders attributed in part to store closings. Same-store sales at Waldenbooks declined by 2.6%.

Borders now expects to earn $1.70 to $1.80 a share in the fourth quarter, compared with its previous guidance of $1.60 to $1.80. The estimate includes costs of about 6 cents a share. For the full fiscal year, the company narrowed its profit outlook to $1.35 to $1.45 a share from the prior range of $1.28 to $1.47. The fiscal-year guidance reflects costs of roughly 13 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call are looking for a profit of $1.70 a share in the fourth quarter and $1.38 for the year.

Borders, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., also said its board approved a new repurchase program that will allow the company to buy back up to $250 million of stock. The company plans to issue its final fourth-quarter and fiscal-year results, along with guidance for the next fiscal year, on March 16.

Shares of Borders were gaining 85 cents, or 3.8%, to $23.26 in after-hours trading Wednesday.