By  on August 18, 2005

NEW YORK — Due to strong same-store sales, The Talbots Inc. on Wednesday posted second-quarter results that beat Wall Street's EPS estimate by a penny.

For the three months ended July 30, income dipped slightly by 2.5 percent to $18.9 million, or 35 cents a diluted share, from $19.4 million, or 34 cents, in the same quarter last year. Excluding the $3.4 million tax benefit in the year-ago quarter, income was $16 million, or 28 cents.

Sales rose 12 percent to $449.6 million from $401.6 million. Retail store sales gained 11 percent to $388.8 million, while same-store sales rose 6.7 percent. Talbots' direct marketing business, which includes catalogue and Internet sales, increased 16 percent to $60.8 million. The company's Internet business represents 41 percent of its total direct marketing sales.

For the six months, net income inched up 1.1 percent to $53.4 million, or 98 cents a share, from $52.8 million, or 92 cents, a year ago. Sales rose 10.1 percent to $896.1 million from $813.7 million.

"All of our concepts generated positive comparable-store sales in the second quarter and for the full first half. Of particular note was the robust performance of Talbots Woman, our large-size concept with a 13.7 percent comp-store increase in the second quarter and 10.6 percent [gain] in the first half," said Arnold Zetcher, president and chief executive officer, during a conference call to Wall Street analysts.

"Turning to fall, overall we feel very good about our product offering, which is updated and classic in a modern way. In refined, we will be emphasizing luxe fabrics, rich color and increased novelty, particularly in jackets and blouses. And we're enhancing our presence in career as we expanded our replenishment, career suiting separates program to 175 locations in both misses' and petites, up from 115," Bosworth said.

For the year, the company is projecting $1.87 in earnings per share, in line with First Call consensus estimates from Wall Street analysts.

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