Talbots' ( TLB) first quarter was chilled by February's cold weather, and per-share earnings fell 11%. Still, results came in a penny ahead of analyst estimates. The company was mum on specific second-quarter guidance, and said it preferred a cautious approach given the uncertainty of the economy. "We are hopeful that the improved regular-price selling trends that we experienced in the later part of April will continue," said Chief Executive Arnold B. Zetcher. In the period ended May 3, the retailer earned $29.4 million, or 51 cents a share, compared with $35 million, or 57 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by First Call were expecting the company to earn 50 cents a share. "The effect of February's severe weather resulted in a significant drop in sales, which we did not expect to recapture by the end of the period," said Zetcher. "However, we are pleased that a better-than-anticipated performance in March and our on-plan results in April enabled us to offset much of the weakness, and the company was able to generate first quarter earnings per share at the high end of our previously announced range." Total sales rose 1% to $395 million, but comparable store sales fell 4.3%. Additionally, catalog sales were down 5% to $65.8 million. In the second quarter, analysts expect the company to earn 31 cents a share; it earned 33 cents a share in the prior-year quarter. Talbots expects to open 92 stores this year, 33 of which were in the first quarter, to a total of 973 stores. Shares of the Hingham, Mass.-based company closed at $26.71 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.