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High-end department store chain



posted sharply higher third-quarter earnings, helped by a tax credit, on a 4.3% rise in sales. Results beat analysts' estimates.

Including a gain totaling $5.5 million after taxes, the company earned $12.4 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with $1.9 million, or 1 cent a share, in the previous-year quarter. Excluding items, the company earned 5 cents a share. Analysts were expecting a profit of 3 cents a share.

Sales were $1.47 billion compared with last year's $1.41 billion, while comparable-store sales were up 3.1%. The company's department store group had total sales of $866.1 million and Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises had $601.1 million in revenue.

Separately, the Birmingham, Ala.-based company named Fred Wilson, the president and chief executive of Donna Karan, as the new president and chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises. Wilson, who will take the helm Jan. 1, 2004, replaces Christina Johnson, who resigned in October. Wilson is also the chief executive of

Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises consists of 62 Saks Fifth Avenue stores and 54 Saks Off 5th stores. The Saks Department Store Group has 243 department stores under the names Parisian, Proffitt's, Herberger's, Bergner's, and Boston Store and 16 Club Libby Lu specialty stores.

Shares of Saks were recently up 11 cents, or 0.7%, to $15.11.