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Limited Says Same-Store Sales Rise, EPS Estimates Look Within Reach

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Limited (LTD) , that ever-present mall staple and parent of teen-friendly Express and mom-friendly Lerner New York, announced that same-store sales, that is, stores that were open for at least a year, rose 3% in the four weeks prior to Nov. 25. Over that four-week span, net sales rose 4% over the year-ago period.

The company also said it was comfortable with analysts' earnings estimates of 65 to 67 cents a share, trying to assuage fears that deep pre-Christmas retail discounting will be cutting into the bottom line. Despite a nice run-up in retail stocks in the

S&P Retail Index

, which has recently moved higher, many analysts have been making noise that although sales are up, these figures are misleading because retailers have lowered prices for goods and have cut into profit margins.

Right now, the Limited looks good. In the year-to-date, same-store new sales were up to $7.411 billion from $7.275 billion, a 7% gain from the year-ago period. But, with retailers accounting for a huge chunk of its sales in the weeks to come, these data only suggest that Limited is headed into the season ahead of last year.

If Limited really wants to beat estimates, it'll need more than good sales. It'll need

Intimate Brands

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, parent of

Victoria's Secret


Bath & Body Works

, to do well also. You see, the Limited is intimate with Intimate, holding an 84% stake in the company. If Intimate fares poorly, so does Limited.

Today, Intimate announced that November same-store sales were off 3%, while total net sales for the four-week period ahead of Nov. 25 were up 2%. The picture is still murky, though. The holiday shopping season looms rather large. Intimate said that based on achieving its goal of comparable-store sales growth between 5% and 7% for the rest of the fourth quarter, it is comfortable with analyst estimates.