Chico's

(CHS) - Get Report

said fourth-quarter earnings rose 29% from a year ago, helped by surging sales and relatively lower expenses, and the company reported sharply higher February comps.

The women's clothing chain earned $33.0 million, or 18 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $25.6 million, or 14 cents a share, last year. The latest quarter's earnings included an accounting charge of 2 cents a share, before which the company matched the Thomson First Call estimate of 20 cents a share.

Sales in the quarter rose 32.5% from a year ago to $286 million, also matching estimates. Same-store sales rose 12.9% in the quarter, while overhead and store-opening expenses were 37.5% of revenue in the quarter compared with 38.3% last year.

For February, the company said same-store sales rose 9.2% from a year ago, about 3 percentage points more than expected. Overall sales rose 24.2% from last year to $83.5 million.

Goth gear purveyor

Hot Topic

(HOTT)

said same-store sales unexpectedly rose in February despite a tough year-ago result. Comps were up 0.2% for the company, compared with expectations for a 2% decline.

Hot Topic also said a review of its lease accounting will result in a downward earnings restatement for each of the past three years. The reduction will come out to about a penny a share for each year, and Hot Topic also said earnings in 2005 would be about a penny a share below previous forecasts because of the action.