Updated from 8:44 a.m. EDT

A handful of chain stores reported generally solid earnings Thursday morning, continuing the sector's hot streak amid signs the economy is perking up.

Clothing merchant

Limited

(LTD)

earned $102 million, or 19 cents a share, in the second quarter, up from $83.2 million, or 16 cents a share last year, on a 3% jump in same-store sales. Total sales rose to $2.014 billion, up 5% from $1.912 billion last year.

The latest quarter's earnings beat the Thomson First Call estimate by 3 cents and the company backed earnings estimates of 4 cents a share for the third quarter and 74 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

Gadget dealer

Sharper Image

( SHRP) earned $807,000, or 5 cents a share, in the second quarter, compared with a loss of $617,000, or 5 cents a share, last year. Same-store sales rose 15% and total sales vaulted 27%.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were forecasting earnings of 3 cents a share in the latest quarter.

For all of 2003, Sharper Image now expects to earn $1.42 to $1.46 a share, compared with the existing First Call consensus of $1.41 a share.

Discounter

Fred's

earned $4.4 million, or 11 cents a share, in the second quarter, up from $3.7 million, or 9 cents a share, last year. Same-store sales jumped 5.5% while total sales rose 18% to $302.3 million. The results matched estimates.

Plus-size women's clothier

Charming Shoppes

(CHRS) - Get Report

earned $18.6 million, or 15 cents a share, in the quarter, down from $25.5 million, or 20 cents a share, last year. The latest quarter includes a $3.9 million charge related to cost reductions. Analysts had been looking for earnings of 12 cents a share.

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Charming Shoppes expects to break even in the current quarter on August same-store sales that fall in the mid-single digits. That matches the existing First Call estimate.

Clothes and cosmetics retailer

Stage Stores

( STGS) said it earned $9.1 million, or 45 cents a share, on sales of $207.7 million in the latest quarter, down from earnings of $10.4 million, or 47 cents a share, on sales of $207.5 million last year. Same-store sales fell 3.5% in the quarter.

Analysts were forecasting earnings of 41 cents a share in the latest quarter.

The company said its margin was squeezed by markdowns and higher store occupancy costs. It lined up a new $175 million credit facility.

ShopKo

( SKO) earned $7.7 million, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $764.7 million in the quarter, compared with $7.2 million, or 25 cents a share, on sales of $783.4 million last year. Same-store sales fell 2.2% in the quarter from last year.

Teen jewelry and accessory retailer

Claire's Stores

( CLE) earned $22.2 million, or 45 cents a share, in the second quarter, compared with $16.9 million, or 32 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 11% to $264.9 million from $238.7 million last year, while same-store sales rose 5%.

Analysts were expecting 43 cents a share. For the third quarter, the company forecast income from continuing operations of $15 million to $16 million, or 31 cents to 32 cents a share. For the full year, Claire's raised its guidance to $2.05 a share from $1.95 a share. Analysts expect $2.01 a share for the year and 30 cents a share for the third quarter.

Foot Locker's

(FL) - Get Report

net income was $36 million, or 24 cents a share, compared with $31 million, or 21 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales increased 3.5% to $1.12 billion from $1.09 billion last year. Same-store sales fell 4.4%.

Excluding items, the sneaker chain earned $37 million, or 25 cents a share. Analysts were calling for 24 cents a share. Foot Locker projected third-quarter earnings of 31 cents to 33 cents a share, while analysts expect 32 cents.

Men's clothing retailer

JoS. A. Bank's

(JOSB)

earnings spiked to $2 million, or 27 cents a share from $900,000, or 13 cents a share, a year ago. Total net sales rose 24.1% to $64.4 million, and comparable-store sales increased 12.5%.

Analysts were calling for 21 cents a share. The company increased its earnings guidance for the full year to a range of $1.86 to $1.91 a share. Analysts expect $1.85 a share.