BRAINTREE, Mass. -- Bradlees Inc. reported second-quarter earnings of $600,000, or 5 cents a share, against a loss of $4.95 million a year ago.

The results beat Wall Street's estimate of 2 cents a share.

After hitting a 52-week high of 16 3/8 in early trading, Bradlees closed Tuesday at 16 1/8, up 1/8, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Sales in the quarter ended Aug. 13 inched up 0.5 percent to $394 million from $392.1 million, and same-store sales rose 1 percent.

Barry Berman, chairman and chief executive officer, attributed second-quarter improvement to cost reduction, inventory control and fewer markdowns.

In a conference call with investors Tuesday, Berman said the company is budgeting a 2 percent increase in same-store sales in the second half.

Berman noted that the company intends to avoid last year's mistake when it was over-optimistic about sales in the second half and ended up with too much inventory.

As reported, Berman will step down as chairman and ceo as soon as the company finds a successor to assume merchandising responsibilities, although Berman will remain with the company in a capacity to be determined.

The announcement of the move followed the resignation of Herbert R. Douglas as Bradlees' senior vice president of merchandising to become president and ceo at Jamesway Corp.

Bradlees said its 1994 expansion program is on target with its first new store opened in August in Seekonk, Mass. The discounter plans to open 10 more stores this fall in several areas including New York City, Long Island and Rhode Island.

Bradlees operates 127 discount department stores in the Northeast and Virginia.

-- Fairchild News Service

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