By and  on August 24, 2007

Retailers reporting second-quarter results Thursday delivered consistently robust sales gains, suggesting summer clearance events worked and that early back-to-school promotions at the teen retailers were successful. Profits, however, were another story.

Earnings fell at New York & Company Inc. and Stein Mart Inc., while The Wet Seal Inc. and Buckle Inc. delivered standout performances. Several retailers offered cautious outlooks for the second half.

The bulk of retailers reported results early Thursday while Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., Bebe Stores Inc., Gap Inc. and Aéropostale Inc. released quarterly numbers after the market closed.

At New York & Co., second-quarter earnings plummeted 46 percent as the company slashed its full-year guidance. For the three months ended Aug. 4, earnings fell to $3.5 million, or 6 cents a diluted share, from $6.5 million, or 11 cents, in last year's period as sales for the quarter increased 11 percent to $294.4 million from $264.8 million. Total same-store sales rose 4.7 percent in the quarter.

The company lowered its full-year earnings forecast to a range of 47 cents to 58 cents a diluted share, from previous guidance of 85 cents to 92 cents a diluted share. New York & Co. expects third-quarter earnings in the range of 1 cent to 6 cents a diluted share.

Stein Mart posted second-quarter results that declined year-over-year and issued third-quarter guidance below Wall Street's expectations. Stein Mart earned $2.2 million, or 5 cents a diluted share, in the quarter — down from $8.3 million, or 19 cents a diluted share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue came in at $330.1 million, down from $336.3 million in 2006's second-quarter.

Analysts expected the discount retailer to report earnings of 5 cents a share on revenue of $333.3 million. Stein Mart forecast a third-quarter loss between 3 cents a share and 6 cents a share; analysts are looking for third-quarter income of 4 cents a share.

At the bell, Bebe Stores reported a decline in operating income and earnings for its fourth quarter on a sales gain of 6.9 percent as the retailer took higher markdowns.

Net earnings fell 10 percent to $19.7 million, or 21 cents, from $21.9 million, or 23 cents, in the prior year on sales that rose to $162.7 million from $152.2 million. Same-store sales declined 5.7 percent. Operating income dropped 12.8 percent to $25.1 million from $28.8 million.

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