said its first-quarter loss widened, but on a pro forma basis the company beat estimates on stronger same-store sales.

The animal supply store posted a first-quarter loss of $29.7 million, or 57 cents a share, compared with a loss of $7.2 million, or 19 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding charges relating to the company's February IPO and other one-time items, Petco posted pro forma net income of $8.7 million, or 15 cents a share, almost triple last year's $2.9 million, or 5 cents a share.

On a pro forma basis, analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call had been expecting the company to earn 13 cents a share.

Net sales for the quarter were $349.2 million, a 14.7% increase over the first quarter of 2001. Same-store sales increased 9.3% on top of a 7.7% increase last year. Petco's gross margin for the quarter was 30.1%, and EBITDA increased 27% to $35.2 million.

Due to the strong first-quarter results, Petco also raised its second-quarter and full-year guidance. The company now expects to see EPS of 14 cents to 15 cents for the second quarter and 84 cents to 85 cents for the full year. Analysts are expecting 14 cents for the second quarter and 82 cents for the year. The company also forecast same-store sales growth of 7% for the second quarter and for the full year.

Shares of Petco closed at $23.40 Thursday before the news.