The holiday quarter was golden for Neiman Marcus ( NMGa). Earnings at the chi chi department store retailer rose 78% in the quarter, thanks to strong sales, cost controls and a gain from a legal dispute. In the company's fiscal second quarter, Neiman Marcus earned $59.17 million, or $1.21 a share, compared to $32.48 million, or 68 cents a share, a year earlier. However, without the one-time gain from a tax settlement of $7.5 million, or 15 cents a share, the company's net earnings in the just-completed quarter would have been $1.06 a share. The company's sales jumped 12.3% to $1.05 billion. Those results surpassed Wall Street's expectations. Analysts were looking for earnings of $1.03 a share on sales of $1.04 billion. Neiman Marcus did not immediately provide its outlook for its fiscal third quarter. But the company announced skyrocketing February sales. On both a same-store and overall basis, Neiman's sales rose 24.4% in the month. (Same-store sales compare like results at outlets open more than a year.) Wall Street has predicted that Neiman will post profits of $1.01 a share in the third quarter on $776.01 million in sales. Neiman shares closed regular trading down 12 cents, or 0.2%, to $56.99. After hours, the stock was recently up 41 cents, or 0.7%, to $57.40.