By  on March 17, 2010

Value-price specialty chain Rue21 Inc. beat analysts’ estimates Tuesday with a 67.9 percent jump in fourth-quarter profits.

The Warrendale, Pa.-based company, which went public last year, said for the period ended Jan. 30, net income totaled $7.7 million, or 32 cents a diluted share, versus income of $4.6 million, or 20 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter. Rue said adjusted earnings per share were 36 cents. Quarterly revenue spiked 30.5 percent, to $155.4 million from $119.1 million, and was up 8.6 percent on a same-store basis. Analysts polled by Yahoo expected earnings of 30 cents on sales of $149.7 million.

Gross margin for the period improved to 35.7 percent versus year-ago levels of 32.3 percent.

On a conference call late Tuesday, Robert Fisch, president and chief executive officer, said Rue would continue opening stores in “underserved markets” and the management team has its “sights firmly set” on more than doubling the retailer’s store count, as well as net income, in the next four to five years.

During the quarter, Rue, which caters primarily to teens and young adults, opened 88 stores. The company finished fiscal 2009 with 535 stores, and plans to open 100 doors this year.

“We continue to feel very good about how we are positioned in the marketplace, including our presence in small- and middle-market communities and our speed-to-market merchandise strategy,” Fisch said.

Last year, Rue’s net income rose 74.2 percent to $22 million, or 96 cents a diluted share, from $12.6 million, or 55 cents, in 2008. Annual revenue grew 34.3 percent to $525.6 million from $391.4 million on a 7 percent rise in same-store sales.

The retailer said it anticipates first-quarter EPS in the range of 16 cents to 18 cents, and 2010 earnings to be between $1.08 and $1.13 a share. Wall Street is looking for first-quarter EPS of 15 cents and annual earnings of 90 cents a share.

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