By  on August 21, 2008

Limited Brands Inc. on Wednesday posted a significant decline in second-quarter profits, due to an increasingly unfriendly economic landscape, but the firm still raised its yearly guidance.

The Columbus, Ohio-based parent of Victoria’s Secret, La Senza, Henri Bendel and Bath & Body Works said income fell by 61.4 percent to $102 million for the three months ended Aug. 2, or 30 cents a diluted share, from $264.4 million, or 67 cents, in the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter fell 12.9 percent to $2.28 billion from $2.62 billion, while comparable-store sales fell 7 percent.

For the six months, the company reported a 37 percent drop in income to $199.8 million, or 58 cents a share, from $317.3 million, or 79 cents a share, a year ago. Sales fell 14.7 percent to $4.21 billion from $4.93 billion.

Company chairman and chief executive officer Leslie Wexner said Limited Brands was “pleased with its performance in this challenging economic environment.”

The ceo also boasted: “Our disciplined management of inventory and expenses resulted in earnings per share that exceeded our initial expectations…in spite of negative same-store sales in the quarter.”

Wexner laid out the company’s strategy moving forward.

“Although we expect that the environment will continue to remain challenging, we will continue to conservatively manage the financial aspects of the business, while at the same time provide compelling assortments and exciting store experiences to build our brands,” he said.

The company raised its yearly earnings per share guidance, expecting EPS at $1.45 to $1.60 a share for 2008, excluding first-half items of 20 cents a share. The new figure is up from the $1.38 to $1.58 a share it expected following the announcement of its first-quarter results in May. Analysts polled by Yahoo Finance expect EPS of $1.48 a share.

Gross profit for the second quarter accounted for 33.3 percent of net sales.

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