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Ann Taylor Beats Estimates in Qtr

AnnTaylor Stores Corp. had a good second quarter, posting results that beat Wall Street consensus estimates for earnings per share by 14 cents

NEW YORK — AnnTaylor Stores Corp. had a good second quarter, posting results that beat Wall Street consensus estimates for earnings per share by 14 cents.

The specialty retailer said Friday that income was $43.2 million, or 59 cents a diluted share, for the second quarter ended July 29, compared with income of $7.1 million, or 10 cents, in the year-ago period. Wall Street consensus was 45 cents a share. Sales rose 19.9 percent, to $610 million from $508.7 million, while same-store sales rose 10.3 percent.

For the six months, income was $82.2 million, or $1.13, compared with $24.1 million, or 33 cents, in the year-ago period. Sales rose 18.4 percent, to $1.17 billion from $985.1 million.

“We are delighted with the record performance we achieved during the second quarter. We built on our positive momentum at both Ann Taylor and Loft, driving increased full-price sales and higher gross margin to deliver a fivefold increase in earnings per share for the quarter,” said Kay Krill, president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

During the conference call with analysts, Krill said, “Dresses, suits and skirts drove the business, while knit and woven tops, shoes and jewelry also performed well.”

Based on results thus far, the company raised guidance for the 2006 fiscal year to $2.05 to $2.10 in earnings per diluted share.

Citigroup analyst Kimberly Greenberger has a “sell” rating on shares of Ann Taylor. She wrote in a research note, “[We] believe the turnaround in earnings is fully reflected in the stock price at current levels making the risk/reward unattractive in light of the uncertain macro environment.”