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Cost cuts helped Perry Ellis International Inc. narrow its second-quarter loss, and the apparel firm’s optimistic outlook attracted investors Wednesday.

This story first appeared in the August 20, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

For the three months ended Aug. 1, the Miami-based vendor reported a loss of $5.3 million, or 42 cents a diluted share, versus a loss of $5.4 million, or 36 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Yahoo Finance had expected a loss of 57 cents a share, on average.

Revenues in the quarter fell 18.4 percent to $153 million from $187.4 million.

Chairman and chief executive officer George Feldenkreis blamed the bankruptcies of Mervyns, Gottschalks and Goody’s and a reduction in mass market private label business for the sales declines.

Despite the loss of orders, the company improved its bottom line with a 20.9 percent reduction in selling, general and administrative expenses in the quarter to $47.7 million from $60.3 million the previous year. Perry Ellis has shed 181 jobs, or about 9 percent of its U.S. workforce, in the last 12 months.

For the first half of the year, profits fell 85.5 percent to $541,000, or 4 cents a share, from $3.7 million, or 24 cents a share, a year ago. Sales in the six months slid 13.7 percent to $367 million from $425.2 million in the comparable period last year.

The firm said it expects to earn between 70 cents and 85 cents a share for all of fiscal 2010 based on orders for the holiday and spring seasons.

“As we look into the future, we feel that the next six months are definitely going to be better than the same period last year,” Feldenkreis said.

Shares of the manufacturer gained $1.53, or 17.2 percent, in trading Wednesday to close at $10.45.

Earlier this month, the company said Paul Rosengard, group president of Perry Ellis and luxury brands, had left the firm.