Updated from 8:55 a.m. EDT

Retailers reported generally strong July results on Thursday, with many raising their quarterly earnings guidance.

Wal-Mart Stores

(WMT) - Get Report

posted July sales of $18.63 billion, up nearly 12%. Comparable-store sales in the company's U.S. retail segment, which includes Sam's Club and Wal-Mart, rose 4.6%, compared with 4.5% last year. The company also said it expects second-quarter earnings of 52 cents a share, ahead of analysts' consensus estimate of 50 cents a share.

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Report

boosted its second-quarter guidance due to solid same-store sales and improved gross margins. The electronics retailer also said full-year earnings would likely exceed analysts' consensus forecast. Best Buy now expects to earn 37 cents to 42 cents a share in the quarter ending Aug. 30, up from previous guidance of 27 cents to 32 cents a share. Analysts are calling for 30 cents a share. In last year's second quarter, the company earned 24 cents a share.

(For more on Best Buy, click here.)

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Target

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, July comparable-store sales rose 3.1%, and retail sales increased about 11% to $3.3 billion. Second-quarter sales rose 8.7% to $10.64 billion, and comparable-store sales rose 1.5%.

(For more on Target, click here.)

"Overall, we saw very good traction on clearance merchandise in July," said Jeff Stinson, an analyst at FTN Midwest Research. But, he said, July is generally not a good indicator for future sales. This is mostly because stores are still clearing out spring and summer merchandise at discount rates. As a result, back-to-school sales are struggling, Stinson said. "They've got full-price merchandise right next to clearance merchandise."

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

saw a solid July, with total sales increasing about 21% and same-store sales rising 6.7%. The company said seasonal apparel sales were strong in the period, leading it to push second-quarter earnings estimates slightly higher.

(For more on Kohl's, click here.)

Sharper Image

(SHRP)

said July same-store sales rose 11%, while total sales for the month increased 20% to $37.6 million. Second-quarter comparable-store sales rose 15%, the company said, while total sales were $124.7 million, up 25%. The company also affirmed that it expects to earn 2 cents to 3 cents a share in the quarter, reversing last year's loss of 5 cents a share. Analysts expect 3 cents a share.

Urban Outfitters

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said second-quarter same-store sales rose 11% and that quarterly total sales jumped 22% to $122.9 million.

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Talbots

(TLB)

, July sales increased 6% to $100.5 million, from last year's $94.5 million, and comparable-store sales rose 0.7%, ahead of expectations. The company said total second-quarter sales were $389.6 million, up 5%, but quarterly same-store sales fell 1.7%. Talbots now expects second-quarter earnings at the high end of its range of 29 cents to 31 cents. Analysts expect 30 cents a share.

Pier One

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reported July sales of $129.6 million, an increase of about 5% from last year's $123.6 million, but same-store sales fell 4.1%, from an increase of 2.3% in the prior year. The company also said it expects August comps to be down about 3% to 6%. It sees second-quarter earnings at 20 cents to 23 cents a share, while analysts expect 21 cents a share.

Federated

reported a July same-store sales decrease of 0.4% and said total sales were $963 million, down 0.5% from last year. Second-quarter total sales were $3.44 billion, a decrease of 1.5%, and the quarter's comparable-store sales fell 1.2%. The company said it expects second-quarter earnings of 60 cents to 63 cents a share, up from previous guidance of 50 cents to 55 cents a share. Analysts expect 54 cents a share. The company also said third- and fourth-quarter combined EPS is seen at $2.40 to $2.50 a share. Analysts expect 34 cents a share in the third quarter and $2.05 a share in the fourth.

J.C. Penney

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said July comparable-department-store sales rose 3.7%, and comparable-store sales at its Eckerd drug-store chain increased 0.1%. Second-quarter comparable-department-store sales rose 2.1%, but Eckerd comparable-store sales fell 0.8%.

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Sears

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, comparable-domestic-store sales fell 0.8% in July, and total domestic-store sales were $1.9 billion, down 0.3% from last year.

Gap

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posted a 9% increase in July comparable-store sales and said total monthly sales rose 12% from last year's $956 million. For the second quarter, the company said sales increased 13% to $3.7 billion, and comparable-store sales rose 10%. Earnings in the quarter are now seen at 20 cents to 22 cents a share, ahead of analysts' expectation of 19 cents a share.

BJ's Wholesale Club

(BJ) - Get Report

said July total sales spiked 18.2% to $485.7 million, and comparable-club sales rose 10.1%, including gasoline sales. Second-quarter total sales were $1.64 billion, up 14%, and comparable-club sales increased 6.6%, also including gas. BJ's said it expects second-quarter earnings of 30 cents to 32 cents a share. Previously, the company had predicted 29 cents to 33 cents. Analysts expect 30 cents a share. For the year, the company expects to earn $1.25 to $1.35 a share; analysts forecast $1.30.

Ann Taylor

(ANN)

said July total sales were $116.5 million, up 15.7%, and comparable-store sales rose 7.6%. Second-quarter comparable-store sales increased 5.3%, with total sales rising 13.7% to $390.2 million. Since sales were higher than expected, the company lifted its second-quarter earnings outlook to 44 cents to 45 cents a share, from an earlier estimate of 39 cents to 41 cents. Analysts are calling for 40 cents a share. The company also said it expects earnings in the fall season to be 98 cents to $1.04 a share and that it will provide exact third- and fourth-quarter guidance on Aug. 13. Analysts expect 59 cents a share in the third quarter and 42 cents a share in the fourth.

Among the major share movers in morning trading, Gap was up 3.5%, or 62 cents, at $18.33, while Ann Taylor was up 6.4%, or $1.88, at $31.18. Federated was up $1.47, or about 3.8%, at $40.32, while BJ's Wholesale was up up 3.2%, or 56 cents, at $17.97.