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Shares of

Cost Plus


hit a new 52-week low Thursday after a weak second-quarter outlook overshadowed first-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates.

In the second quarter, Cost Plus expects to earn $3 million to $3.4 million, or 14 cents to 15 cents a share, below the consensus for 16 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

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Shares of the Oakland, Calif.-based company were lately down 5.6%, or $1.81, to $30.60. The stock's previous 52-week low of $31 was hit on May 22, 2003.

In the latest first quarter, profit rose to $3.3 million, or 15 cents a share, from $2.6 million, or 12 cents a share, in the year-earlier period, driven by increased sales in home furnishings and consumables. Analysts had been expecting 14 cents a share.

Sales increased 16.6% to $185.7 million with same-store sales up 3.4%.

"With tight control over operating expenses we were in a position during the quarter to elect to take additional markdowns in order to assure clean inventories in our stores as we move into the summer selling season and maintain the sales momentum of certain high growth categories," the company said in a statement.

The company expects sales in the second quarter of $188 million to $190 million with same-store sales up 3% to 4%. Cost Plus also expects to open nine new stores in the second quarter.

For full-year 2004, the company expects a profit of $1.78 a share, matching the current Wall Street consensus. Total same-store sales in the year are projected to be up 4%.