By  on November 20, 2008

Limited Brands Inc.’s third-quarter profits fell almost two-thirds, the company said Wednesday, but outpaced Wall Street expectations by a penny.

Net income for the Columbus, Ohio-based specialty chain operator declined 65.7 percent to $4.2 million, or 1 cent a diluted share, from $12.1 million, or 3 cents a share, in last year’s quarter. On average, analysts polled by Yahoo Finance expected Limited to break even in the quarter.

Sales in the three months ended Nov. 1 dropped 4.2 percent to $1.84 billion from $1.92 billion a year ago. Comparable-store sales were down 7 percent in the quarter. The company’s gross margin for the period dropped 6 basis points to 31.5 percent of sales.

For the first nine months of fiscal 2008, Limited posted a 38.1 percent drop in profits to $204 million, or 60 cents a share, from $329.4 million, or 85 cents, last year. Sales for the three quarters fell 11.8 percent to $6.05 billion from $6.86 billion a year ago.

The company said it expects fourth-quarter earnings per share of 85 cents to $1 and full-year EPS of $1.20 to $1.35.

Limited, which owns Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, La Senza, Henri Bendel and several other specialty brands, operates 3,021 retail locations.

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