Shares of Talbots ( TLB) were among the NYSE's winners Wednesday, rising 7% after the women's apparel retailer posted a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss.

The company recorded a loss of $3.9 million, or 7 cents a share, including 14 cents a share in charges related to its acquisition of J. Jill and 3 cents for stock-options expense. Excluding these costs, Talbots recorded a profit of 10 cents a share. Analysts, who included the charges in their estimates, predicted a loss of 8 cents a share.

Sales totaled $571 million, as same-store figures rose 1.3%. Analysts expected slightly higher sales of $575.9 million. A year earlier, Talbots earned $18.9 million, or 35 cents a share, on sales of $449.6 million.

"Our second-quarter results were positively driven by strong sales of our core Talbots brand apparel, which started to gain traction in early April," said Talbots Chairman, President and CEO Arnold Zetcher in a statement. "We saw particularly strong selling trends across all Talbots brand channels throughout June and July, which offset much of the softness in sales of our J. Jill brand merchandise during the quarter."

For the second half, Talbots expects net earnings of 50 cents to 55 cents a share. Analysts target second-half earnings of 50 cents. Excluding charges and stock-options costs, the company projects earnings of 81 cents to 86 cents a share. Talbots shares recently were up $1.41 to $22.76.

Estee Lauder ( EL) shares shed 4% after a tepid first-quarter guidance overshadowed the cosmetics company's better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter results. For the quarter ended June 30, Estee Lauder earned $44.5 million, or 21 cents a share, down from $66.6 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding various charges related to cost-cutting moves and tax items, Estee Lauder's earnings rose 15% to $108.8 million, or 51 cents a share. Earnings on this basis topped analysts' mean estimate of 48 cents. The company, which owns brands such as Clinique, Aveda and La Mer, said sales rose to $1.6 billion from $1.53 billion. That beat analysts' target of $1.56 billion.

Looking ahead, Estee Lauder forecast first-quarter earnings of 15 cents to 20 cents a share, well below Wall Street's forecast of 33 cents a share. The company said its results would be hurt by stores closed last year due to Federated Department Stores' ( FD) acquisition of May Department stores.

The company also said that significant increases in investment of certain brands also may weigh on results. For fiscal 2007, Estee Lauder projects earnings of $2 to $2.10 a share, including an 8-cent impact related to the Federated store closures. Wall Street sees fiscal-year earnings of $2.10 a share. Estee Lauder shares recently were down $1.39 to $35.79.

Big Lots ( BLI) hit a 52-week high after the retailer beat Wall Street's second-quarter earnings targets and raised its guidance. The company swung to a second-quarter profit of $4.3 million, or 4 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $13.8 million, or 12 cents a share. Analysts expected the company to record a loss of 6 cents a share for the recent quarter. Sales rose to $1.06 billion from $1.0 billion a year earlier, while same-store sales increased 5.2%. Wall Street projected sales of $1.04 billion.

Big Lots now sees fiscal-year earnings from continuing operations of 62 cents to 67 cents a share, up from an earlier guidance of 44 cents to 59 cents. Analysts, on average, predict earnings of 50 cents a share for the year. Big Lots shares recently were up 18 cents, or 1%, to $17.95; earlier, the stock hit a 52-week high of $19.

Shares of Pep Boys ( PBY) jumped 10% after the auto-services chain posted improved earnings and said it is closing a strategic review into its business. For the second quarter, Pep Boys reported earnings from continuing operations of $1.5 million, or 3 cents a share, compared with the year-ago profit of $832,000, or 1 cent a share. The per-share earnings beat analysts' mean estimate by a penny. Revenue rose to $578.6 million from $577.4 million, while same-store sales increased 0.4%.

Pep Boys said it is concluding its strategic review process with Goldman Sachs. "While the process produced interest from a number of potential investors, at this time the board of directors believes that any strategic or financial alternatives will be more profitably revisited when the company's operating results have improved," Pep Boys said. "The board will continue to review opportunities as they arise, but expects to focus on ensuring that the company's operating results reflect the company's potential." Shares were trading up 97 cents to $10.78.

Shares of Parlux Fragrances ( PARL) soared 26% after the perfume maker agreed to sell its Perry Ellis fragrance rights for up to $140 million. Victory International will pay $120 million for the rights and up to $20 million for inventory.

"Victory and others have expressed an interest in acquiring our Perry Ellis fragrance rights in the past," said Parlux CEO Ilia Lekach in a press release. "In view of our plans to develop other celebrity fragrance brands, we decided the sale would be appropriate at this time." Shares of Parlux recently were up $1.34 to $6.40.

Carolina Group ( CG) shares dropped 5% after Loews ( LTR) said it plans to sell 15 million of the company's shares to the public. After the offering, there will be about 108.3 million Carolina Group shares outstanding, and Loews will hold a 37.7% economic interest in the stock.

Carolina Group is a tracking stock primarily for Loews' Lorillard cigarette business. Carolina Group shares recently changed hands at $57.52, down $3.05; Loews shares were trading at $36.87, down 7 cents.

Shares of Innerworkings ( INWK) jumped 18% on their first day of trading. The company, which provides print-procurement services to corporations, sold 10.59 million shares in its initial public offering at $9 a share. The IPO priced at the high end of the projected range of $8 to $9. The company is selling 7.06 million of the shares, while shareholders sold 3.53 million. Shares recently were trading at $10.66, up $1.66.

Verizon ( VZ) said North Carolina-based FairPoint Communications ( FRP) is interested in buying its local telephone lines in New England, which Verizon said it wanted to sell three months ago. CenturyTel ( CTL) and Citizens Communications are reportedly interested in the lines, but Verizon officials did not specifically name those firms.

FairPoint shares were recently up 0.9%, while CenturyTel and Verizon were each down 0.4%.

Elsewhere, CSX ( CSX) was up 2.2% and Garmin ( GRMN) was up 3.7%; each split 2-for-1 before the open. Meanwhile, Hutchinson Telecommunications International ( HTX) was up 0.6% after posting a first-half profit, reversing a year-ago loss, while Network Appliance ( NTAP) was up 2% ahead of its earnings, scheduled for after the close.

The NYSE's top volume movers Wednesday were Lucent Technologies ( LU), up 2 cents to $2.22; Ford Motor ( F), up 12 cents to $8.04; Sprint Nextel ( S), up 11 cents to $16.40; Pfizer ( PFE), up 28 cents to $26.68; Cendant ( CD), up 6 cents to $1.92; General Electric ( GE), up 32 cents to $33.52; Taiwan Semiconductor ( TSM), up 12 cents to $9.38; Exxon Mobil ( XOM), down 7 cents to $68.82; and EMC ( EMC), unchanged at $10.94.

Nasdaq's volume leaders included Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), up 16 cents to $4.78; Cisco Systems ( CSCO), up 28 cents to $20.93; Intel ( INTC), up 27 cents to $18.40; Microsoft ( MSFT), down 2 cents to $24.60; Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), down 9 cents to $3.66; JDSU ( JDSU), up 5 cents to $2.34; Applied Materials ( AMAT), down 15 cents to $15.54; Oracle ( ORCL), down 14 cents to $15.58; and Broadcom ( BRCM), up $1.35 to $29.26.

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