By  on December 4, 2008

Aéropostale Inc. reported an 18.4 percent jump in third-quarter net income, although same-store sales fell in November.

Tightly managed inventory, new promotions and growth in the New York-based retailer’s graphic apparel business helped the firm post net income $42.6 million, or 63 cents a diluted share, for the quarter ended Nov. 1. This compares with net income of $36 million, or 48 cents a share, a year ago. Net sales rose 16.8 percent to $482 million from $412.6 million in the 2007 period.

Analysts surveyed by Yahoo expected EPS of 62 cents on sales of $482.7 million. Comparable-store sales were up 7 percent in the quarter, but fell 5 percent in November, the company reported.

Driven by higher merchandise margins, quarterly gross margin improved to 36 percent of sales from 34.9 percent in the prior-year period, driven by higher merchandise margins.

Black Friday comps were up in the low-single digits, but since then trends have been “somewhat inconsistent,” president and chief merchandising officer Mindy Meads said on a conference call.

Julian Geiger, chairman and chief executive officer, said despite posting a negative comp last month, Aéropostale is poised to continue its streak of 11 consecutive years of same-store sales increases. “I would never bet against the Aéropostale organization in doing anything,” he said.

For the nine months, net income grew 26 percent to $81.2 million, or $1.20 a share, from $64.5 million, or 84 cents a share, last year. Revenue rose 19.6 percent to $1.2 billion, from $999.6 million.

The company said it anticipates fourth-quarter earnings between 84 and 90 cents a share, adding that the broad outlook reflects an “environment of economic uncertainties.”

Wall Street had expected fourth-quarter EPS of 98 cents, on revenue of $647 million.

Capital expenditures for 2009 are expected to be $55 million, down from approximately $80 million for the current year, the company said.

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