Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY) posted double-digit increases in sales and earnings for the fiscal first quarter, and same-store sales rose 4.4%, the seller of home furnishings said after the close Wednesday.

The company earned $57.5 million, or 19 cents a share, in the first quarter, up from the $46.3 million, or 15 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Net sales rose 15% to $893.9 million from $776.8 million last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting a profit of 18 cents in the latest quarter.

Bed Bath & Beyond's same-store sales comparison was up against a 13.2% increase in last year's fiscal first quarter, the largest quarterly rise in comparable-store sales in eight years.

As of May 31, there were 498 Bed Bath & Beyond stores operating in 44 states and Puerto Rico. Since the beginning of the fiscal second quarter on June 1, five new Bed Bath & Beyond stores have been opened. Including those already opened year to date, the company plans to open 80 to 90 stores, in both new and existing markets, during the fiscal year that ends Feb. 28, 2004.

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond were down 41 cents, or 1%, to $42.02 in Instinet trading after the regular session ended.

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