reported a lower second-quarter profit on Wednesday, but the results topped analysts' estimates and the company's own expectations, thanks to strong early fall merchandise and markdown sales.
In the quarter ended Aug. 2, the company earned $18.5 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with $20 million, or 33 cents a share, last year. Analysts were calling for 31 cents. The company had previously forecast earnings of 29 cents to 31 cents a share. Talbots said earlier this month that it expected its results to come in at the high end of that guidance.
Total sales rose 5% to $389.6 million from $370.4 million. The company said retail-store sales were $339.4 million, also up 5%. Same-store sales, however, fell 1.7%, but were still better than expected. Catalog sales climbed 6% to $50.2 million.
"Looking ahead, we are pleased with our fall merchandise assortments and will be supporting the current momentum in our business with an extensive marketing program beginning in September," said President and Chief Executive Arnold B. Zetcher. "We are hopeful for a continuation of the healthy regular price selling trends we have seen since mid-June, as we move through the fall season."
Talbots, based in Hingham, Mass., opened 10 new stores during the quarter for a total of 924 stores. The company expects to open 53 new stores in the second half of the year. Talbots shares closed at $34.40 Tuesday.