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Talbots Guidance Is Soft

First-quarter earnings rise 9%, matching estimates.
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posted a 9% jump in first-quarter profit that reached the high-end of its guidance, but the clothing retailer's guidance for the second quarter came in below Wall Street's expectations.

The Hingham, Mass.-based retailer earned $34.5 million in the quarter, or 63 cents a share, compared with $33.5 million, or 58 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. The results were in line with Wall Street's expectations, according to consensus estimates reported by Thomson First Call.

The company stuck with its forecast for a second-quarter profit in the range of 32 cents a share, but analysts, on average, are expecting earnings of 33 cents a share.

"Looking at the second quarter, we have several marketing initiatives in place to help drive increased customer traffic and continued sales growth, including a broad-based customer event," the company said. "In addition, our important semi-annual clearance sale is scheduled to begin at its traditional time in mid June."

During the first quarter, Talbot's sales rose 8% from last year to $446.5 million. Retail store sales increased 8% to $378.1 million, boosted by a same-store sales gain of 4.3% for the quarter. Direct marketing sales, which include catalog and Internet, increased 8% to $68.4 million, compared to $63.6 million in the prior-year period.

Shares of Talbots were recently down 52 cents, or 1.8%, to $28.30.