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Chico's Dressed to Kill

Shares jump after the retailer posts better-than-expected earnings.
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Another good year for



will get better Friday after the company delivered strong earnings and guidance after the bell.

The women's clothes retailer earned $47.2 million, or 26 cents a share, in the first quarter ended April 30, up from $35.7 million, or 20 cents a share, last year.

Sales rose 27.4% from a year ago to $327 million. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 25 cents a share on sales of $328 million.

Same-store sales rose 10.8% in the quarter from a year ago.

Chico's shares gained $1.75, or 6.5%, to $32.97 in premarket trading. The stock is up 45% this year after doubling between 2002 and 2004.

The company said overall same-store sales growth in the second quarter is currently running at a double-digit percentage. Same-store sales at its flagship Chico's line are rising in the low double digits while same-store sales at its White House/Black House unit are exceeding 30%.