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Good News: Chico's Pops on Turnaround

Chico's posts a 14% jump in its first-quarter earnings to reach $14.5 million, or 8 cents per share. The stock rises in early morning trading

It seems analysts, go figure, were actually right --

Chico's FAS

(CHS) - Get Chico's FAS, Inc. Report

is starting to benefit from its turnaround efforts.

The women's apparel retailer posted a 14% jump in its first-quarter earnings to reach $14.5 million, or 8 cents per share, compared with $12.7 million, or 7 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding 3 cents per share for a write-off of software application development costs, the company's profit was 11 cents per share. Analysts expected earnings of 8 cents.

Stock in the company jumped by almost 10%, to $9.70 per share, in the first hour of trading Wednesday.

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Sales edged up to $410.6 million from $409.6 million, helped by improved White House Black market sales and its direct-to-consumer business.

But shoppers are still holding back, as same-store sales fell 3.2% in the quarter. By division, White House Black Market climbed about 4%, while the company's namesake dropped about 6%.

Selling, general and administrative expenses declined to $211.6 million from $212.1 million.

Prior to the earnings release Chico's was

upgraded by several analysts

who expected the retailer to begin reaping benefit from its efforts to hire new management, cut jobs and close stores.

In January, Chico's said it would eliminate 180 positions and may close up to 25 stores.

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