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Claire's Stores


posted a big jump in first-quarter earnings Thursday, easily surpassing analysts' estimates, and forecast second-quarter and full-year results that could also come in ahead of consensus.

The company said first-quarter results benefited from improved merchandising, solid same-store sales and an increase in gross margins.

Net income rose 78% to $27.7 million, or 28 cents a share, in the quarter ended May 1, compared with Wall Street's consensus for a profit of 24 cents a share. In the year-ago period, the company earned $15.6 million, or 16 cents a share.

Quarterly sales for the Pembroke Pines, Fla.-based jewelry and accessories retailer jumped 17% to $281.6 million, while same-store sales were up 11% on top of an 8% same-store sales increase in the year-earlier quarter.

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"Our focus is on sustaining this momentum quarter after quarter. We are accomplishing this through disciplined buying and highly effective merchandising methods, so that our stores remain fresh and consistently offer our customers newness and value," Claire's said in a statement.

Looking to the second quarter, Claire's expects a profit of $28 million to $29 million, or 28 cents to 29 cents a share. The consensus estimate is 28 cents a share. Revenue in the quarter is seen at $295 million to $297 million with same-store sales up 6% to 7%.

In the full-year, the company anticipates earnings of $1.41 to $1.45 a share, compared with the consensus for $1.43 a share and year-ago earnings of $1.23 a share. Sales are expected to be $1.23 billion to $1.25 billion, with same-store sales up 4% to 5%.

In addition, Claire's announced that it raised its quarterly dividend to 7 cents a share for common stockholders; the payment will be made on June 18.

Claire's shares closed at $19.24 Wednesday on the

New York Stock Exchange

. The shares are up 43% from a year ago.