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Tween Brands Twinkles

Shares jump after the girls' clothing retailer beats earnings estimates.

Shares of

Tween Brands


jumped Wednesday after the specialty clothing retailer posted higher-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, though its first-quarter forecast was below Wall Street's estimates.

The stock recently was up $2.46, or 7%, to $37.57.

For the quarter ending Feb. 3, the New Albany, Ohio-based company earned $28.2 million, or 86 cents a share, up from $27.1 million, or 80 cents a share, a year earlier.

The latest quarter's results included a charge of 3 cents a share related to a severance agreement. Excluding the charge, earnings were 89 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 84 cents a share.

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The retailer, which sells clothes for girls in the 7-to-14 age range, said sales for the key holiday period rose to $272.3 million from $235.1 million a year earlier. Wall Street had expected revenue of $272.7 million.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open for at least a year, increased 2%. The growth was fueled by a 21% rise in comps at the Justice chain, a newer concept offering clothing and accessories at a lower price point. Same-store sales were flat at Tween's main chain, Limited Too.

The company operates 562 Limited Too stores and 162 Justice stores.

Looking ahead, Tween sees first-quarter earnings of 34 cents to 37 cents a share, short of Wall Street's expectation of 39 cents a share. Earnings were 35 cents a share in the year-earlier period.

The company projected a first-quarter comp sales increase in the low-single-digit range, representing an increase in the high-teens percentage for Justice, with flat comp sales at Limited Too.

For the full year, Tween Brands forecast earnings $2.15 to $2.25 a share, compared with earnings of $1.95 a share for the most recent fiscal year. Wall Street is looking for earnings of $2.33 a share.

Tween Brands said its capital budget for 2007 is $105 million, compared with total capital expenditures of $66 million in 2006.

The company said about $70 million will be invested in opening new stores and remodeling older Limited Too stores. The balance will be used for expansion of the company's home office and information technology and supply-chain plans.