Jones Apparel Group ( JNY) posted a lower first-quarter profit Tuesday, but the results blew away analysts' estimates. The company said full-year 2004 results would also be higher than previously thought.

The company said net income in the quarter rose to $94.4 million, or 73 cents a share, from $121.8 million, or 90 cents a share, a year earlier. The Wall Street consensus was for a profit of 60 cents a share.

Revenue in the quarter dropped slightly to $1.218 billion from $1.234 billion a year ago.

Shares of the company were lately up $1.24, or 3.3%, to $38.45.

"We achieved better-than-anticipated performance in all segments of our business," the company said in a statement. "Our wholesale shipments were quite strong, and our company-owned retail business registered a comparable-store sales increase of 13%."

Jones added that "the consumer shift toward more structured and career oriented dressing aligns well with our strengths, and we are fulfilling that consumer trend."

Operating profit margin decreased to 13.3% from 16.9% in the year-earlier period, due in part to the effects of exiting a licensing deal with Polo Ralph Lauren ( RL).

The company confirmed that it expects earnings of 55 cents to 60 cents a share in the second quarter. Analysts are calling for 59 cents a share.

For full-year 2004, Jones New York upped its expected revenue range to $4.46 billion to $4.49 billion, from a previous estimate of $4.42 billion to $4.44 billion. As a result, the company increased its 2004 earnings projection to $2.68 to $2.80 a share from a prior estimate of $2.50 to $2.75 a share.

The Wall Street consensus for the year is $2.74 a share.

The New York-based company also declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 8 cents a share, which will be paid on May 21.

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