By  on May 20, 2005

NEW YORK — For three specialty apparel chains posting first-quarter sales and earnings yesterday, results were mixed but matched analysts' estimates.

While New York & Co. Inc. posted a 65.3 percent surge in first-quarter profits, it forecast full-year earnings per share below analysts' current estimates. Ann Taylor Stores Corp. said quarterly earnings dropped by nearly half, despite a 10 percent rise in revenues.

Aeropostale Inc. had a 37.6 percent rise in first-quarter profits, as the retailer's teen shoppers sent same-store sales up 4.4 percent. But the retailer said second-quarter profits could miss Wall Street expectations.

In the three months ended April 30, net income at New York & Co. was $21.5 million, or 38 cents a diluted share, versus $13 million, or 25 cents, in last year's first quarter. Net revenues increased 7.1 percent to $270 million from $252.1 million last year. Same-store sales increased 3.9 percent.

"Comparable-store sales increases were driven by strong gains in our casual apparel assortments with particular strength in activewear, denim, body shapers and jackets. We also recorded significant increases in our accessory category," said Richard Crystal, chairman and chief executive officer of New York & Co., on a conference call.

Gross profit margin in the quarter was 36.4 percent of net revenues, unchanged from the prior year's quarter. Sales per square foot was $85, up 11.8 percent from $76 last year.

Looking to the second quarter, the New York-based company, which expects to open 45 to 50 new stores this year, sees second-quarter earnings at 19 to 23 cents, which would compare with a loss of 20 cents in the second quarter last year. The analyst consensus is for a profit of 21 cents.

In the full year, however, New York & Co. sees earnings of $1.18 to $1.24, versus the analyst consensus of $1.25.

Shares of New York & Co. closed Thursday trading down 1 percent to $18.61 on the New York Stock Exchange.

At Ann Taylor, profits in the three months ended April 30 declined 46.5 percent to $17 million, or 24 cents a diluted share, which compared with earnings of $31.8 million, or 43 cents, in the first quarter last year.

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