Updated from 5:11 p.m. ET for latest share prices, additional information on Foot Locker. NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Ascena Retail Group ( ASNA) rose in late trades on Thursday after the women's apparel retailer trounced Wall Street's expectations for its second-quarter results and lifted its full-year outlook. The company, whose brands include dressbarn and Justice, reported earnings of $63.7 million, or 81 cents a share, for the January-ended period on net sales of $862 million, up 15% year-over-year. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a profit of 67 cents a share on sales of $829.9 million. For the full year ending in July, Ascena forecast earnings of $2.75 to $2.80 a share, up from a prior projection for a profit of $2.60 to $2.70 a share, citing "better-than-expected quarterly earnings results and favorable early spring sales trends" for the increase.
The stock was last quoted at $42.80, up 10%, on volume of more than 200,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Based on Thursday's regular-session close at $38.95, the shares were up more than 22% in the past year, hitting a 52-week high of $39.28 on Feb. 21. Ascena attributed its higher sales in the latest quarter to a 6% jump in same-store sales as well as strength in the performance of new stores and its e-commerce operations. "We are pleased to have continued to see positive acceptance for our merchandise assortments and a generally strong performance in a tough market environment," said David Jaffe, the company's chief executive officer, in a statement, adding later: "With this growth, we are working more efficiently while maintaining an intense focus on both our gross margin and our on-going expense controls. We believe we are well positioned for the spring and summer seasons in each of our concepts." The sell side was mildly bullish on Ascena ahead of the report with 7 of the 12 analysts covering the stock at either strong buy (4) and buy (3), and the remainder at hold (5). The 12-month median price target sits at $40, so there's likely some sentiment out there that the shares have gotten ahead of themselves with a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 13.1X as of Thursday's close. Check out TheStreet's quote page for Ascena Retail Group for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.