Regis Corp.'s ( RGIS) fourth-quarter EPS rose 22%, beating out the company's previous estimates and First Call/Thomson Financial's prediction by a hair. The company, which opened more than 2,000 new stores in 2002, said its 1,000-strong Wal-Mart ( WMT) Supercenter-based SmartStyle salons contributed heavily to its performance.

Not including a one-time tax benefit of $1.8 million, or 4 cents a share, the company earned $20.4 million, or 45 cents a share, compared with $15.8 million, or 37 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. First Call/Thomson Financial had predicted the company to earn 43 cents a share.

Revenue was up 11% to a record $384.4 million vs. $345.9 million from last year.

The company's EBITDA was up 11% to $55.7 million compared with $49.3 million last year.

Looking ahead, Regis expects 2003 EPS to be up 13% to 15%, or $1.80 to $1.83 a share. Analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial predict the company to earn $1.80 a share for the year.

Shares of Regis were up 2% to $25.81 on the Nasdaq.

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