By  on June 27, 2008

Christopher & Banks Corp. Thursday reported better than expected results for the first quarter, but warned of a difficult second quarter ahead.

For the three months ended May 31, the Minneapolis-based misses' specialty retailer reported net income of $11.3 million, down 3.4 percent from the $11.7 million reported during the comparable 2007 period. Earnings per share were flat at 32 cents.

However, the EPS result exceeded guidance of between 25 and 27 cents a share provided when the retailer released fourth-quarter results in April.

Net sales were up 6.9 percent to $159.6 million from $149.4 million in last year's quarter and were flat on a same-store basis.

For the second quarter, the company expects "a highly promotional retail environment," pressuring earnings per diluted share to between 0 and 3 cents, down from 9 cents during the second quarter of 2007.

"Based on our June-to-date sales and traffic trends, and the assumption that the current economic environment will not improve, we believe it is reasonable to plan for a high-single-digit decline in same-store sales," said Lorna Nagler, president and chief executive officer. "As we look ahead, we plan to maintain disciplined inventory and expense controls, as well as prudently manage our promotional activities. We believe that our strong balance sheet and the strategic investments we are making in our business will position us for improved performance when economic conditions become more favorable."

The company operates 850 stores, including 551 under the banner of Christopher & Banks and 263 as C.J. Banks.

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