NEW YORK — In its rookie year as a public company, Aeropostale soared in the face of tough challenges.

Julian R. Geiger, chairman and chief executive of Aeropostale, said at the company’s annual meeting here on Wednesday, “Our ability to produce excellent results amidst a challenging retail environment is real testimony to the strength of the Aeropostale brand, to the compelling nature of our retail concept and to the talent and dedication of our people.”

In a year that the company saw its initial public offering on May 21, 2002, the New York-based value-priced teen specialty retailer also posted double-digit increases in its profits and sales as income surged 18.1 percent to $31.3 million, compared with $26.5 million, and sales increased 36.2 percent to $550.9 million, from $404.4 million, driven by a same-store sales gain of 6.6 percent and an increase of 89 new stores.

Geiger said the back-to-school season was challenging, due to a dramatic and unexpected decline in mall traffic in September, but said the firm’s increased promotional activity, reduced merchandise commitments and curtailed external marketing spending played out well.

At the same time, Aeropostale’s stock price has recovered since it reached its 52-week low of $5.25 on Oct. 10. Shares of the company traded up 39 cents or 1.8 percent to close at $21.60 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

“The success of our approach and the flexibility of our operating formula demonstrated our ability to adapt to market changes and to minimize the adverse effects of external stimuli on our financial performance,” Geiger said.

Aeropostale was established by R.H. Macy & Co. as a department store private label initiative in the early Eighties and targeted men in their 20s. Macy’s opened the first mall-based Aeropostale special store in 1987. Over the next decade, Macy’s, and later, its current parent company, Federated Department Stores, opened more than 100 stores. In August 1998, Federated sold its specialty store division to Aeropostale’s current management. It now operates just over 400 stores.

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