Chico's FAS

(CHS) - Get Report

won a few believers back to the specialty retail space Tuesday night, reporting a stronger-than-expected 37% jump in third-quarter earnings.

The women's clothier earned $37.1 million, or 41 cents a share, in the three months ended Oct. 30, compared with earnings of $26.8 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose 28.1% from a year ago to $269.8 million. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 38 cents a share on sales of $271 million, according to Thomson First Call.

After closing down $1.40, or 3.5%, to $38.60 in regular trading, Chico's shares were recently up $1.60, or 4.2%, to $40 in the late session. The initial weakness followed a poor earnings forecast Monday night by

Hot Topic

(HOTT)

, another former darling of the space.

Chico's said both its flagship lines and White House/Black Market brands saw strong increases in the number of transactions and merchandise margins in the quarter vs. last year. The company said White House contributed 2 cents to 3 cents of earnings to the quarter's total.

Comparable-store sales for the company-owned stores rose 6.1% in the latest quarter from a year ago.