HIGHER GUIDANCE: Citing strengths in its Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works divisions as well as a successful quarterly clearance sale at Express, Limited Brands Inc. lifted its third-quarter earnings projection to 8 cents to 10 cents a share from a prior guidance of 4 cents to 6 cents. The forecast includes a gain of 2 cents from the settlement of a state tax matter, Limited said in a statement. Consequently, Limited raised its full-year earnings outlook to “about” $1.35, excluding the impact of transactions from an ongoing tender offer. That compares with a previous forecast for $1.30 to $1.35. Columbus, Ohio-based Limited also said same-store sales in the four weeks ended Oct. 30 are expected to be in the midteens, and that it extended its current tender offer, which commenced on Oct. 7, by 24 hours. The $2 billion stock buyback program, which is being administered through a modified Dutch auction and will be followed by a post-purchase, special dividend of $500 million, will now end at midnight on Nov. 5.

FRENCH CONNECTION: Weathering a turndown in French consumer spending, Groupe Galeries Lafayette on Wednesday reported third-quarter sales grew 1.6 percent to 1.28 billion euros, or $1.63 billion. Figures have been converted at current exchange rates. The French retailer, which also runs the Monoprix supermarket chain, BHV home improvement stores and Laser financial services arm, said sales at its Galeries Lafayette and Nouvelle Galeries department stores rose 4 percent to 480 million euros, or $609.6 million. Sales at the firm’s flagship Boulevard Haussmann unit in Paris, bolstered by a new teen-focused floor, increased 4.9 percent to 161.7 million euros, or $205.4 million.

COTTON PETITION: The coalition of textile and apparel industry groups seeking to curb imports from China filed a safeguard petition Wednesday covering imports of combed cotton yarn, which were valued at $4.5 million in 2003. The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, National Council of Textile Organizations, National Cotton Council, SEAMS, American Fiber Manufacturers Association and UNITE HERE are targeting some $1.96 billion in imports from China for continued quota restraints in an expected wave of 13 petitions covering 21 categories. Imports of combed cotton yarn to the U.S. rose 23.7 percent for the year ended Aug. 31 on a volume basis. China controls a 2.9 percent share of U.S. imports of combed cotton yarn. Meanwhile, world imports, including China, of combed cotton yarn to the U.S. stood at $162.9 million in 2003. U.S. production of combed cotton yarn was $218.5 million last year.

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