Kohl's Beats, Raises Forecasts

The midlevel department-store chain reports a 24% jump in second-quarter earnings.
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posted a 24% jump in second-quarter earnings, beating Wall Street's expectations, as the midlevel department-store chain enjoyed strong sales growth.

The retailer said Thursday that it earned $232.4 million, or 69 cents a share, for the quarter, up from $187.2 million, or 54 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 65 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

Based on its performance, Kohl's raised its full-year earnings projection to $3.04 to $3.13 a share. Previously, it had forecast per-share earnings of $2.91 to $3.02. Analysts were forecasting full-year earnings of $3 a share.

"We continue to see consistency in all lines of business and all regions of the country," said Kohl's in a press release. "At the same time, we achieved improvement in our gross margin rate and experienced significant expense leverage on our sales increase. We also made great progress on our share repurchase program, buying over $1 billion of our stock during the quarter."

Kohl's posted net sales for the quarter of $3.3 billion, a 14% increase from last year's $2.9 billion. Its same-store sales, measuring sales at stores that were open for at least a year, increased 5.5%.

The company now operates 749 stores in 43 states, compared with 670 stores in 40 states at the same time last year. It plans to open a total of 85 stores in 2006.

Shares of Kohl's were recently up $1.83, or 3.1%, to $60.02 in after-hours trading. The stock gained 1.1% in regular trading.