second-quarter earnings slipped from a year earlier, reflecting the absence of a tax gain that boosted the 2004 period. Excluding that, earnings rose 18% and beat estimates.
The chain store operator earned $18.9 million, or 35 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $19.4 million, or 34 cents a share, a year ago. Sales rose 12% to $449.6 million. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 34 cents a share on sales of $444.5 million.
The clothing chain said the earnings performance reflects "consistently healthy sales growth in all concepts, U.S. regions and across all channels, including stores, catalog and the Internet." It noted that same-store sales rose every month in the first half of the current fiscal year, with overall comps up 5.5%.
"Our customer's positive response to our spring and summer merchandise assortments contributed to a steady improvement in our business throughout the entire season resulting in solid top and bottom line growth
For the full year, Talbots expects per-share earnings to rise 16% in its second half compared with the same period last year. The company said the estimate is in line with the $1.87 a share earnings consensus compiled by Thomson First Call.