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Talbots Swings to Profit, Shares Gain

Talbots returns to profit in its fourth quarter, surpassing Wall Street's forecast.



) -- Women's apparel retailer



swung to profit in its fourth quarter, overshadowing a sales decline.

During the quarter, Talbots earned $4.09 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a loss of $361.5 million, or $6.75 a share, in the year-ago period for the women's retailer.

Excluding merger and restructuring costs, Talbots actually earned 13 cents a share, easily topping Wall Street's forecast of 2 cents a share.

Talbots sales dropped about 4% to $315.9 million, while its same-store sales sank 7.2%.

Looking ahead, Talbots predicts sales will rise between 4% and 5% in the first quarter and between 3% and 5% for the year.

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Last week Talbots completed a financing deal with BPW Acquisition that ended its relationship with its major investor


and boosted its liquidity.

Talbots, which traditionally catered to the 65 and over demographic, is looking to makeover its image and focus on a younger market in the 35-and-over range.

Shares of the retailer are growing 4.2% before the bell.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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